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Emily Welker, Published February 20 2014

Fargo police honor officer run over by van; department recognizes 40 officers for accomplishments in 2013

FARGO – Brent Malone was only looking to talk with the man in the van parked outside the laundromat.

But in a split second, the reaction of the van’s driver taught Malone all he needed to know about the everyday dangers of being a cop, after only 18 months on the job.

“I was just there to talk, at that point,” Malone said about the Nov. 4 incident. “It was past the scope of an arrest.”

But the van driver, Jack Christensen, might not have realized that. He had fled the scene of a stabbing the day before. Amid the roar of the ventilation fans outside the Busy Bubble in north Fargo, Christensen, an ex-con with a violent rap sheet dating back to the 1990s, made a decision. He put the vehicle in gear and ran over Malone.

“The look on his face as I was going under was scared,” Malone said.

Malone was among nearly 40 Fargo police officers honored during in a ceremony Thursday recognizing 2013 accomplishments, including nine who received life-saving awards. Malone was the only officer to receive the department’s Purple Heart for the year, awarded to officers injured in the line of duty.

After Malone was hit by the van, he called for help as Christensen sped away.

In the emergency room at Sanford Medical Center, doctors tried to figure out if he’d been hit hard enough to lose consciousness. They diagnosed him with a concussion, in addition to injuries to his right wrist.

Officers tracked down Christensen at his apartment, arresting him after a two-hour standoff. He pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and was sentenced to 12 years in state prison.

More than four months later, Malone is back on the job, still suffering some nerve damage to his wrist.

His mother, Jane Malone, said she’s gained a new awareness of how dangerous police work can be. Her son had wanted to be a police officer since he was a little boy, she said.

“I pray every day he has a good day at work,” she said. “Stubborn kid.”

But Malone said he was eager to get back to work.

“You’re ready for things to happen,” he said. “It’s going to be the day you let your guard down things are going to happen.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541