A Knoxville police officer who was shot in the line of duty was awarded the department's Purple Heart.

In January, Officer James "Jay" Williams attempted to pull a vehicle over for speeding on Washington Pike. The other driver fired a gun at Williams then lost control and ran off the road.

The suspect fired another shot at Williams as he got out of his cruiser after the crash, and hit him in the shoulder.

Officer Williams did not return fire as the suspect took off again, because he realized there was another person in the car with the suspect and he didn't want to risk hitting her. Chief David Rausch praised him for that decision he made not to risk an innocent person's life while he was under fire.

Instead, he notified dispatch that he had been shot. Several witnesses with medical training were and was taken to UT Medical Center for treatment.

The suspect, Ronnie Lucas Wilson, fled and was arrested a few days later. He was charged with attempted first degree murder.

Williams, who has been with the department since 2003, returned to full duty in the last couple of weeks. He acknowledged this isn't an award anyone wants to receive, and said he was humbled by the recognition.

"I've taken this opportunity to appreciate each day. Nothing is guaranteed and I've been blessed to be able to continue to serve," he said. "I just want to make the best of every opportunity I'm given."

The law enforcement Purple Heart is awarded to police officers who are injured in the line of duty, and is inspired by the Purple Heart given to wounded members of the U.S. military.