The Miami-Dade Police officer who was stabbed by a prisoner who escaped in Texas as he was being transported by the cop to Nevada returned to a hero's welcome in South Florida Tuesday.
Officer Jaime Pardinas arrived on a small plane at Opa-locka Airport around 11 a.m. where he was met by several friends and fellow officers.
"There was no way I was going to miss this today, no way I was going to miss this reunion today," said recently retired officer Jerry Llanes. "He appeared great. I really didn't get a chance to talk to him, but what I saw, as we embraced, is he seems to be doing well for the circumstances."
Pardinas had spent the past week at Parkland Hospital in Dallas following the Feb. 11 stabbing in the parking lot of a WalMart in Grapevine, Texas.
911 Call From Miami-Dade Officer Moments After Stabbing Released
Pardinas and Officer David Carrero were transporting 42-year-old Alberto Morales to Las Vegas for a court appearance and had flown to Houston when they were forced to rent an SUV to drive Morales the rest of the way.
Morales had acted up on the plane and they were told they wouldn't be allowed on the connecting flight, police said.
When they stopped at the Walmart to use the restroom, Morales used a broken piece of his eyeglasses to stab Pardinas in the chest while Carrero was inside the store, police said.
Morales, who police described as a violent offender with arrests for sexual battery, burglary and kidnapping, fled the scene and led authorities of a days-long manhunt. He was finally shot and killed by officers early Saturday after a confrontation in a wooded area, police said.
"You can never tell. You never tell in police work. You have to expect the unexpected. As you can see, things can go bad really quick in police work," Llanes said.
Speaking with NBC 5 in Dallas Monday, Pardinas' girlfriend, Marinka Stuvel, said the killing of Morales gave the 54-year-old cop closure.
"That gave us tremendous closure, knowing that that man came to an end just gave us closure and we could now completely move forward and heal spiritually, mentally, physically, even more," Stuvel said.