Cem Duzel
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Colorado Springs Police Officer Cem Duzel, right, with a John Cena wrestling action figure on his shoulder in December. Cena is Duzel’s favorite hero.

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To encourage wounded officer Cem Duzel’s recovery, the Colorado Springs Police Department is trying to arrange a visit with Duzel’s “favorite hero,” John Cena.

A toy action figure of Cena from his wrestling days with the WWE has been making appearances around Duzel’s hospital room, but police said in a Facebook post Wednesday that they hope to replace the “pint-sized version” with the real Cena.

“Can we convince John Cena to visit our hero?” police asked in a tweet.

How Cena became to be one of Duzel's idols hasn't been explained, but Duzel's roommate, fellow officer Matt Waters, said the action figure showed up at their house one day and quickly became an fun inside joke between the two.

"He began just kind of like hiding him around the house and it turned into a game between the two of us where he would hide it, I'd find it, and then I'd hide it for him," Waters said in a video posted to the department's social media.

The figurine has since taken up residence in Denver, where Duzel continues to receive treatment for his head injury.

"I want him to see John Cena," Waters said. "I think we need to bring the real thing to him."

Duzel was shot in the head Aug. 2, east of the Olympic Training Center, after a gunman who reportedly became belligerent with an Uber driver was refused a ride.

Karrar Noaman Al Khammasi, 31, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder of a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon, felony menacing and illegal possession of a weapon.

Duzel has been recovering at Craig Hospital in Englewood, a rehabilitation hospital specializing in treatment of spinal cord and brain injuries, but despite periodic glimpses of him smiling and laughing, his journey has been tough.

Police indicated he continues to have surgeries but is showing “great courage” with the help of friends, family and the community.

Duzel is a 5-year veteran of the force.

He worked patrol out of the Sand Creek Division.

Contact the writer at 719-636-0362 or find her on Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin.


Kaitlin is a public safety reporter with a focus on investigations. She is a proud Ohioan, champion for local libraries, volunteer reading tutor and an expert ice cream connoisseur (mint chocolate chip!). She joined the Gazette in 2016.

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