Campbell Law student receives award for heroism

Photo of former Police Officer Ainsworth receiving hero award

RALEIGH — Charles Ainsworth, a second-year Campbell Law School student and retired officer of the Raleigh Police Department, has received a Heroism Award from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. U.S. Attorney Michael Easley presented the award on April 7 to Ainsworth during the first U.S. Attorney Law Enforcement Awards Ceremony. Ainsworth was shot at close range in the line of duty in January 2019.

 “Officer Ainsworth’s dedication to fighting to regain a sense of normalcy for him and his wife, Jennifer, have displayed a bravery and sense of resolve few of us will ever know and he is the perfect definition of what heroism is and an exemplary model of a person who embodies the spirit of this award,” Easley said during the award presentation. “He is the embodiment of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity, and his passion for the law is evident to his professors, and his classmates.

On Jan. 9, 2019, Ainsworth and another officer responded to a call about a carjacking off Schaub Drive. When the officers arrived, there were two suspects in the parking lot, outside the car that had been involved in the carjacking.

“The other officer identified us as police and told them not to move,” Ainsworth explained. “One complied; the other shot me in the face and then ran away. Another officer loaded me into his squad car and met the ambulance in route.”

His injuries, which also caused a series of strokes, resulted in Ainsworth being hospitalized until April 2019. Once he was released from the hospital, Ainsworth faced reconstructive surgeries, extensive physical therapy and he experienced black outs, memory loss and trauma, but he met every challenge with resilience and determination, Easley said. 

Ainsworth, who is 26, is known by his friends and family as “Charlie.” His physical therapist, Cheryl Bennett, told ABC 11, “when it gets hard, he comes back and tries even harder. He’s always rising to the challenge and keeps a good positive attitude.”

Despite his injuries, in October 2019, Ainsworth completed the Oktoberfest 4-Mile race in Raleigh. Ainsworth credits, in part, his strong support system in the Raleigh Police Department, who also showed their support on Twitter via the hashtag “#AinsworthSTRONG.”

“We are in awe of the progress Officer Ainsworth has fought so hard every day to obtain,” department officials say. “We can’t thank everyone enough for all of their support since January.” 

Nate Bowers ’23, Campbell Law’s Veteran Outreach chair of Campbell’s National Security & Military Law Student Association, is also impressed with Ainsworth’s character as well as the challenges that he has faced in law school.

“Ainsworth has voiced to me several times that the students don’t understand him due to a speech impediment from the incident,” Bowers explained. “Since Charlie is humble, he doesn’t tell anyone he was shot, but he suffers from many debilitating factors as a result.”

Bowers added that due to his extensive military background, it was obvious to Bowers that Ainsworth’s struggles were the result of shooting trauma rather than a learning disability.

“Charlie has a special resilience,” Bowers said. “He doesn’t let the traditional anxieties of law school impact him by any notable measure and often jokes how law school is easier than what he went through on the road to recovery: i.e. blackouts, memory loss, reconstructive surgeries, etc.”

Despite his disabilities. Bowers said Ainsworth aims to return to serving the public eventually in the District Attorney’s Office.

“Going to law school is a way he can stay involved in public service and law enforcement,” Bowers added.


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,500 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2021, Campbell Law celebrated 45 years of graduating legal leaders and 12 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.