HUNTSVILLE, Ala - Seventeen cadets graduated from the Huntsville Police Academy Friday. It was a big day for all the graduates. But for one cadet who has been on the other side of the law, the day was surreal.
Isaac Holdsambeck was charged with reckless murder in 2010 after killing a passenger in his car while driving under the influence.
Holdsambeck spoke to WHNT News 19 for the first time Friday. He talked about his road to becoming a police officer and why the department was willing to give him a chance.
A person cannot become a police officer in the State of Alabama if they have a felony on their record. Holdsambeck was 19 at the time of the crash.
He was charged as a youthful offender, which means the record of that crime is sealed and doesn't appear on his criminal background check. He says being a public servant is a way to right his past wrongs from that deadly prom night crash.
Isaac Holdsambeck says walking across this stage was a dream come true.
"I never really thought I'd actually make it. Actually, get hired on so it's really humbling," Officer Isaac Holdsambeck said.
In the 2010 crash, one of his passengers was killed and he was badly injured.
"I felt like I was saved to save other people." And that's why he wanted to become a police officer.
"Losing someone, being responsible for that, it really makes you think about what's important in life and it really makes you want to give back to the community," he said.
Capt. Dwayne McCarver is the Director of Training for the Huntsville Police Department. "It was an extremely tough decision," he said.
McCarver says when they decided to hire Holdsambeck they asked themselves a question:
"Are we going to be the type of police department to give a person a chance?"
Holdsambeck applied to be a police officer several times before he was finally accepted into the academy.
"Multiple times we turned him down," McCarver said.
"And I think each time I got turned down it kind of gave me the motivation to keep on pushing through," Holdsambeck said.
McCarver says Holdsambeck has turned his life around and will be an asset to the force. But officials from the department also know the new officer's journey on the force will not be easy.
"We understand the scrutiny. We talked to him about the potential scrutiny and he had to be willing to face it before we would offer him a job," McCarver said.
"I would say everyone makes mistake. It's not really the mistake that you make, but how you handle it and how you move forward from that," Holdsambeck said.
Holdsambeck says he is in a unique position since he has been on both sides of the law. He hopes to use his past as a way to help others not repeat his mistake.