Moments after Pleasant Valley police officer Jacob Baldwin was shot in the face, blood gushing from his nose, he knew he was gravely injured. All he could think about was living to see his 7-year-old daughter again.
“I was just thinking about the power, the desire to live,” Baldwin said Wednesday after his assailant was sentenced in Clay County Circuit Court to 100 years in prison.
“The willpower is very strong,” Baldwin said. “I was lucky, at the same time, pretty hard-headed. That’s all I was thinking about: getting back to my daughter.”
Omar Maria, 33, of Kansas City was charged in December 2014 with assault on a law enforcement officer and armed criminal action for the incident that happened during a traffic stop on Interstate 35 just north of Interstate 435.
Baldwin pulled over a green Honda Accord driven by Maria for a vehicle registration violation. Maria jumped out of the vehicle and fired several shots from a semiautomatic handgun toward the windshield of Baldwin’s police car before Baldwin could get out, prosecutors said.
Baldwin, who was 37 at the time, was struck in the face. He radioed for help as the gunman got back in his vehicle and sped away.
After searching overnight, authorities received a tip about Maria’s location. He was arrested after a brief standoff at a residence in the 1900 block of Parallel Avenue in Kansas City, Kan.
A Clay County jury convicted Maria following a criminal trial in March.
During the sentencing on Wednesday, Baldwin said the bullet that struck him remains lodged below his right eye and glass fragments also remain embedded on the side of his face. Occasionally, Baldwin said he experiences double vision and headaches. He has nerve damage and issues with his sinuses.
Baldwin displayed no emotion as prosecutors played the six-minute video of the Dec. 13, 2014 traffic stop. The video showed Maria pulling over and immediately fire eight gunshots at Baldwin as he stepped out of his sedan. Baldwin returned fire as Maria sped away.
“It wasn’t anything that I could do to prevent it,” Baldwin testified. “Every time I look in the mirror, I can see that scar.”
Prosecutors asked Circuit Judge David Chamberlain to sentence Maria, who has three felony convictions, to life in prison for shooting Baldwin and 1,000 years in prison on the weapons conviction.
Maria, who was born in California, has prior criminal convictions in Jackson County from 2008. Two involved vehicle thefts and one involved a drug possession charge. He served 120 days in prison before being released on probation, which he later violated.
Those felony convictions meant Maria could not legally possess a firearm or ammunition.
His mother, Joyce Wagner said she was shaken and fell to her knees after receiving a phone call from her husband that Baldwin had been shot.
“I just prayed that God wouldn’t let him die and he saved him,” Wagner said after the sentencing. “Not only for us but for his daughter.”