Then-candidate Joe Biden made a secret hospital visit to meet a wounded police officer
By David Williams, CNN
(CNN) -- Houston police officer Taylor Roccaforte was shocked when then-presidential candidate Joe Biden came to see him in the hospital after he was shot in the line of duty.
Roccaforte was even more surprised that the future president wanted to keep the 2019 visit a secret.
Roccaforte, 30, told CNN that Biden came to see him just days after he was shot three times during a struggle with a suspect in two carjackings and the robbery of a priest.
"It was a very small meeting for just me and my very close, immediate family," Roccaforte said. "He visited with me for for a little bit and it was just nice. It was very, very private, but very intimate."
The former vice president had been in Houston for the third Democratic primary debate, which took place on the night of the shooting.
The visit was kept under wraps until Inauguration Day, when Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo shared the story and photos of the meeting on Twitter.
Acevedo said Biden called him to check on Roccaforte and said he'd like to meet him if that "would be helpful to his spirit and recovery."
"The visit took place during a campaign, yet not a peep of the visit went public. The officer, his family, & hospital staff were all lifted by the visit.
"I share this today to illustrate the decency of the man who we now call Mr. President, although he prefers to be called Joe," Acevedo wrote.
'It wasn't political'
Samuel Roccaforte, Taylor's father and a 43-year veteran in the Houston Police Department, told CNN affiliate KPRC that the meeting was very calming to his son.
"He didn't want anybody to know about it," he told KPRC. "He just wanted to lift his spirits. It wasn't political."
Roccaforte said Biden came into the room with a single Secret Service agent and gave him a vice presidential challenge coin and signed his pillow with the message "we owe you."
"I was not used as a political stunt," Taylor Roccaforte said. "That's what made it such a special thing for me. It was something for me and my family and it was very, just very genuine."
Roccaforte said Biden tried to comfort his entire family and repeatedly said he was grateful that he would be OK.
The visit lasted about 10 or 15 minutes, Roccaforte said.
Roccaforte was able to walk out of the hospital after a week and spent six months recovering at home.
He's back on the job as a K-9 officer.
'This is Joe Biden'
Roccaforte got another surprise about a year after the shooting when he answered a phone call from an unfamiliar number.
"He said 'This is Joe Biden,' and then, as if he had to clarify, said 'this is former Vice President Joe Biden,'" Roccaforte said. "And I said, 'Wow, I was not expecting that, sir.'"
He said Biden told him he'd been thinking about him and wanted to see how he was doing.
"He was deep in the middle of his campaign at that point, so for him to --out of all the people he's met -- for him to remember meeting me, and then remember enough to even call me, of all people, and check up on me, that was huge."
Roccaforte said he's not a political person, but he decided to share his story now, so people on all sides of the aisle can see what sort of person President Joe Biden is.
"We're in a very turbulent time right now and there's a lot of division," Roccaforte said. "I think it's neat to have a story like this to where you can appreciate it, regardless of your political affiliation, to where it's just somebody who did something out of the kindness of their heart for someone else."
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