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Paralyzed officer Shay Mikalonis celebrates birthday in rehab center

Updated November 2, 2020 - 9:32 am

A Las Vegas officer who was shot during a June protest recently celebrated his 30th birthday with family at a rehabilitation center for spinal cord injuries, and he is also overcoming a case of pneumonia, his uncle said.

“Medically there is not really any change,” Frank Mikalonis said of the condition of his nephew, Shay Mikalonis, 30, of Las Vegas.

“The prognosis, the diagnosis, is the same,” Frank Mikalonis said. “Still paralyzed from the neck down, on a ventilator. We are just hoping with time that something happens that is good. Right now there are really no changes.”

Shay Mikalonis was shot at the conclusion of a Black Lives Matter protest on the Las Vegas Strip on June 1. The gunshot wound caused a catastrophic injury to the officer’s spinal cord. He has to have a ventilator to breathe, but he is able to communicate with family.

“We can talk to him,” Frank Mikalonis said. “He can speak. His voice is pretty clear. Very clear. His voice is a little different because of (the breathing) apparatus, but we can talk to him. There are some positives in the year 2020 that we can work with, like voice-activated things, like an Alexa for him. He can control the TV by it being voice activated. Things like that, technology-wise, are better than they were years ago. That is a silver lining.”

The Mikalonis family has declined to name the rehabilitation facility where Shay Mikalonis has been receiving treatment since July. Frank Mikalonis said Shay is expected to stay at the facility “at least until January.”

“We did celebrate his 30th birthday,” Frank Mikalonis said. “Because of COVID they had to wheel him out and we celebrated it outside with masks, separated. A very small gathering because of the rules and restrictions. That’s the best we could do right now.”

Shay Mikalonis also came down with a case of pneumonia recently. He is recovering.

“He just wants to know what the outlook is going to be,” Frank Mikalonis said. “We just don’t have an answer for him unfortunately. He knows what happened. He knows he can’t move his limbs, and we are like, ‘We just don’t know.’ Sometimes, from everything we read, it could take a year before you know. You are still dealing with the injury. Then it could take awhile.

“One guy, after a year, could move his toe, and it started from there, and then he could move his finger,” Frank Mikalonis said. “I’m not saying that’s going to be the case (for Shay). You just don’t know. Statistically, the odds are not in our favor, but you just don’t know. They are holding out hope because that’s all we have.”

The man accused of the shooting, Edgar Samaniego, 20, of Las Vegas, is charged with attempted murder and battery with use of a deadly weapon. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson ruled in August that Samaniego must go to trial on the charges.

The Mikalonis family said it wants to express appreciation to all of the Las Vegas residents who demonstrated support for Shay. The family also offered its condolences to the family of Las Vegas police Lt. Erik Lloyd, 53, the late director of the Injured Police Officers Fund. Lloyd and his wife, Minddie, led the effort to raise significant amounts of money for the Mikalonis family after Shay was shot.

Erik Lloyd died July 29 from complications of COVID-19.

“We were just devastated,” Frank Mikalonis said of Lloyd’s death. “Just devastated. He (Lloyd) was so helpful to our family. They had a poker run, a motorcycle run, that my brother, Shay’s father, went to to support Erik. We were just crushed.

“Please thank the people of Las Vegas for everything they’ve done for our family,” Frank Mikalonis said. “They have been fantastic and we really appreciate it. The community has been phenomenal.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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