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HARSHER SENTENCES: Matson family and state lawmakers call for justice for injured officers

Arik Matson speaks at Minnesota state capitol in Saint Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX47) -- It's been more than a year since Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson responded to a call that would change his life forever.

He was shot in the face. The man who tried to take his life is now behind bars for decades.

Officer Matson and his wife Megan were in St. Paul Thursday advocating for a new law that increases the penalties for attempting to murder a law enforcement officer.

Introduced by Senator John Jasinski, (R) Faribault, and Representative John Petersburg, (R) Waseca, the bill also has DFL support.

"We are here because we want to not only take into consideration and say thank you but we also want to protect those who protect us," said Sen. John Hoffman, (DFL) Champlin.

The current maximum penalty in Minnesota for the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer is 20 years in prison. Some of that time can be served through early release.

"We need to level the playing field, so Senator Jasinski, thanks for adding me on this bill," Hoffman said.

The man who shot Officer Matson in the head, Tyler Janovsky, received 35 years in prison. However, Janovsky received additional time for also shooting at two other officers.

"I wish I could say this would be the last time we would have to prosecute this crime but that's probably not going to be the case," said Arik Matson in front of lawmakers.

Thursday, new legislation was introduced that would increase punishment to a minimum of 30 years served before release. The bill would close what Waseca County Attorney Rachel Cornelius calls "a glaring gap in our current statutes."

"Passing this bill would mean a lot to us. To know that if and when this happens again that the next family will have better justice than was offered to us," said Arik's wife, Megan.

Officer Matson's recovery meant months away from family at rehab centers and enduring reconstructive surgery. There was also physical and speech therapy.

"Arik's progress has been truly a miracle. It shows the power of prayer and the effect it can have, said Lt. Darren Hanson, Albert Lea Deputy Chief of Police.

Arik's hometown of Albert Lea declared February 22 as Arik Matson Day, in honor of his badge number, 222.

"Thank you for all the support this past year and all the prayers and kind gestures from everybody," Arik said. "It's been amazing but definitely been a whirlwind to recover."

Despite all that, Matson says he would answer the same call again that almost took his life.

"He's committed to the badge. He's committed to protecting and serving. He loves helping people," said former colleague Sgt. Tim Bennett of the Albert Lea Police Department.

In addition to his years as an officer in Albert Lea and Waseca, Matson also served the community by helping provide security for the Vikings preseason camp in Mankato and serving as a volunteer fire fighter in Freeborn.

Alex Tejada

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