WEST MEMPHIS, AR, (abc24.com) - His son's violent and very public death set him on a new course in a life: a calling to warn America about a group of anti-government radicals called the "Sovereign Citizens". Six months into his mission, former West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert talks with ABC24 Bulldog Mike Matthews about grief, recovery and renewal.
Bob Paudert relives May 20, 2010 every time he speaks to law enforcement agencies. He watches the pictures of his son Brandon and Officer Bill Evans getting shot and killed sometimes twice a day.
It never gets any easier he says, it never will. But it's what he must do to try and make sure others who wear the badge don't get murdered by a group of domestic terrorists.
The traffic stop didn't seem like that big a deal; officers Bill Evans and Brandon Paudert had done this hundreds of times. Only this time they stopped Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son, Joe, a father and son with a relationship forged by hatred and violence.
It was early in the afternoon when the 911 call came in.
"Two cops are dead! The other one is in the ditch. They're both dead ma'am."
Police headed to the scene, and so did then West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert. He saw Officer Bill Evans, dead. Then he saw his son Brandon.
"It seemed like when I was standing there, looking down at him, and he was looking back up at me, with his pistol still in his right hand, it was... I died... A part of me died. And my passion for law enforcement drained out of me. My passion for life drained out of me," Paudert said. "I will never forget that feeling when you see your beautiful son lying there… looking back at you. I've changed. I've changed a lot since then."
Jerry and Joseph Kane critically wounded the sheriff and deputy sheriff in a West Memphis parking lot before police shot and killed the two.
Bob Paudert remained as chief for about another year, but last retired last September. He now speaks to groups around the country, reliving May 20th and reliving the death of his son and Bill Evans.
He's doing it to tell officers about the Sovereign Citizens, he says; he's doing it to hopefully save lives.
"In the places I go, they say your son and Bill Evans would be very proud of you and what you're doing, because of the lives we are saving, going around the country. It's what they sacrificed that gave you the strength to do this."
Paudert works with the Justice Department now. Paudert doesn't want anybody to be caught dealing with these folks without knowing about them. He doesn't want anybody to deal with the pain he and his wife go through every day.
"It's tougher on a mother, I think, than it is the father. But it's... She understands things have changed forever, and that's just the way it is."
Recently an East Tennessee police officer sent Paudert a message. He had just stopped a Sovereign Citizen who had a 9mm in his pocket, and murder on his mind.
"And he says I saved his life because had I not seen that presentation, I wouldn't have known to be extremely careful and call for backup."
Bob Paudert says the group has threatened a lot of people, but they've never threatened him.
He's not worried. I'm pretty easy to find, he said. If they want to come by, let them.