Medals Of Valor: 2005 Awards
On August 11, 2003, Inspectors Patricia Correa and Lenora Militello, assigned to the Bureau of Inspector's General Work detail, were investigating an aggravated assault by an unidentified subject who had used a pellet or bb gun to shoot a woman and her 3 yr old son from a taxi cab as they walked on Market St.
Their investigation included several witness interviews that enabled them to identify a suspect. After gathering more information, the Inspectors went to a Woodrow St. in Daly City to locate the suspect. When they arrived they saw a man fitting his description standing at the rear of a taxi parked in front of the address.
As they approached this individual, identifying themselves as police officers, the subject suddenly whirled around towards Inspector Correa and thrust a large knife into her left side. Inspector Militello went forward to halt the attack and was herself slashed and stabbed in the left breast and upper chest. The attacker then whirled around in a continuos motion back to Inspector Correa and managed to inflict a second knife wound during the ensuing struggle.
Both Inspectors continued to fight off the crazed attacker in close quarters combat when just as suddenly as the vicious attack began, it ceased for the moment as the knife wielding suspect ran away into the residence.
Not immediately knowing the extent of their injuries, Inspector Correa and Inspector Militello took cover behind their vehicle but aware that they must prevent the escape of this very dangerous menace to the public. Not yielding to the shock of their injuries or the overwhelming urge to focus on their wounds, the Inspectors called for assistance and medical aid.
Maintaining their position outside the residence, Inspector Correa saw the suspect reappear in his front window now holding a firearm. She warded off another attack and forced him to retreat back into the house with two shots from her own weapon.
Medical aid arrived and the suspect was finally captured by a team from Daly City Police who had responded to the Inspector's call.
Both Inspectors suffered life threatening wounds and loss of blood. Inspector Correa subsequently underwent several hours of surgery followed by an extended convalescence but has now returned to work. Inspector Militello also recovered from her wounds and has returned to work
In this incident, while not knowing the full extent of their injuries but aware that their wounds could be fatal, Both inspectors were conscious that they must stop their attacker from escaping and harming anyone else. Ignoring their perilous condition, neither Inspector Correa or Inspector Militello relented nor were they diverted from their duty by their wounds and the natural urge to simply protect themselves.
Both Inspector correa and Inspector Militello was awarded the Silver Medal Of Valor and Purple Heart for their actions.
On Sunday, May 29 2005 several officers responded to a report of a suicidal man threatening to jump from the fire escape on the 7th floor at 540 Jones St. The officers formed a quick tactical plan and began to negotiate with the man as they waited for additional assistance and trained negotiators. Officer Lawrence Chan was one officer who was concealed just out of view inside the seventh floor apartment waiting for an opportunity to intervene and stop the suicide attempt. The man had now climbed over the fire escape rail and was hanging onto the outside.
The suicidal man refused to follow the officers directions to come in off the fire escape but did ask for a bible and a can of beer. Negotiations followed for these items which were eventually obtained for him in an effort to buy time and win his trust.
As the requested items were shown to him at the window, the man climbed partially back onto the fire escape to retrieve them. At this point Officer Chan saw his opportunity to restrain the jumper and lunged through the window grabbing the man's shoulders.
The jumper immediately pulled back and in so doing yanked Officer Chan through the window and out onto the fire escape with him. The man continued to try and fight off Officer Chan putting them both in danger of falling as he tried to throw himself from the fire escape. Officer Chan was being held by others in the apartment preventing him from plunging over the rail as he tried to restrain the suicidal man.
Officer Chan continued to hold on and the suicide attempt was ended when more officers were able got a hold on the man and overcome his effort to break free and jump. He was later booked on a psychiatric evaluation hold.
Officer Lawrence Chan was awarded a Bronze medal of valor for his actions.
In the early evening of Oct 14, 2004 , Officers George Perez, Frank Harrell and Thomas Johnson responded to a report of an attempted robbery at an ATM on Grant Avenue in the Central District. The citizen who had managed to avoid being robbed reported that the suspect was armed with a large knife and was wearing bloody clothing..
The suspect was seen by responding officers fleeing the scene on a bicycle riding against traffic on Grant Ave. Officer Harrell left his patrol car and pursued the suspect on foot. He alerted officers Perez and Johnson that the suspect was heading right for them as they too approached the scene.. the suspect lost control of his bicycle at the intersection of Spring Alley and Sacramento street and quickly found himself surrounded by the three officers.
The suspect held the officers off with the knife raised above his head as they continually ordered him to drop it. Aware of the crossfire danger, the busy restaurants nearby and the people on the street, the call went out for less lethal weaponry. The officers acting with restraint and discipline held their perimeter encircling the suspect as he became more agitated and lunged forward with the knife at each of them.
Conscious of the suspect's increasing desperation, Officer Perez took a momentary opportunity for a tactical shot in a clear field of fire and struck the suspect in the thigh with a single shot from his handgun. The suspect collapsed to ground but would not release the knife which had to be wrestled from his grip before he was taken into custody.
Disregarding their own safety, these officers surrounded a crazed suspect, armed with a knife and desperate to escape, in order to prevent further harm to innocent persons. They held him at bay with their physical presence, exposing themselves to his attacks since their use of force options were limited by the presence nearby of members of the public. The suspect was finally disabled with skill and precision bringing a potential deadly encounter to a close without injury to anyone else.
All three officers were awarded the Bronze Medal Of Valor for their actions.
When the officers arrived, the manager told them he had evacuated the store and locked the subject inside. As they tried to get a visual on the armed subject locked in the store, the officers could see that he was spraying lighter fluid on the floor and shelves of merchandise which he then began to set ablaze. This particular Walgreens is situated below an older victorian style apartment building predominantly of wood construction.
With the potential for a major fire to erupt at any moment the officers had to take immediate action and confront a possible active shooter. The officers had armed themselves in response to the shooter but Sgt. Yee, seeing the subject lighting fires, called in an ERIW. The manger unlocked the front door and the officers entered. Sgt. Yee and Officers Anderson and Hutchings tried to surround the subject but he had soaked a stuffed animal with lighter fluid, ignited it and was using it to light a stream of fluid that he sprayed at Officer Anderson. The air was thick with smoke from the burning stock on the store shelves including much plastic, carpeting and other synthetic material. Three separate fires were now burning as the subject tried to squirt the officers with fluid and ignite their clothing.
The officers were standing pool of lighter fluid, their clothing wet with fluid, as they tried to contain and overcome the subject. Avoiding a possible crossfire among the officers surrounding the subject, Officer Innocencio fired three ERIW rounds at the subject who then ran to the rear of the store but continued to spray lighter fluid. The officers pursued him through the slippery fluid covered aisles to where Officer Pomatto advanced and tackled the subject who continued to spray fluid at him. Now that the subject was down, the officers were rolling in lighter fluid that covered the floor as fires burned around them. Officer Innocencio's boot had ignited during the struggle and the violently resisting subject was able to bite Sgt. Yee's forearm. The subject was finally subdued requiring both hand and foot restraints. Found to be a not only a convicted arsonist, but now facing arrest for another SF fire, this incident resulted in 17 felony charges against him.
Despite the clear danger to themselves, these officers knew that a much greater danger for a major blaze and peril to many more lives existed with the apartment building over the store that was being set afire by an armed subject. They were not deterred and ignoring their own safety, they successfully subdued a violent arsonist pursuing him through burning aisles, their uniforms wet with flammable liquid and the floors slick with fluid.
For their actions in this incident Sgt. Greg Yee, Officer Mark Hutchings , Officer Matthew Innocencio officer Malcolm Anderson and officer Steven Pomatto are each awarded the Bronze Medal of valor.
Petrossian and Silver soon found a third person coming out of the kitchen into the small living area. This man made quick eye contact with the officers and just as quickly glanced down to the floor as if trying to locate something. After a second glance back at the officers within a split second the man dove to the floor and grabbed a backback.. Officers P & S instinctively tackled him on the floor fearing that he would produce a weapon from the backpack..
In the violent struggle that followed, Officers Butheris and Westbrook joined in the effort to restrain the man on the floor who had pulled a semi auto pistol from the backpack. The combined weight of the officers pinned the gun in the man's hand under his body as he tried to turn himself over to free the weapon and stated his intention to shot them all.
Pepper spray had no effect and an attempt to use a carotid restraint failed when the subject bit officer Silver's hand.
After more minutes of violent struggle, Officer Westbrook wrestled the gun from the subjects hand and he was taken into custody requiring both hand and leg restraints. The weapon was a 45 cal pistol loaded with seven rounds. The subject later stated that he wanted to kill the officers so that he in turn would be killed. Further investigation revealed that this individual was a fugitive facing drug charges and a long prison sentence in Nebraska where he had tried to kill a Nebraska State Trooper.
It was a chance encounter that found these four officers within seconds to be in a struggle for their lives. Through their instincts and teamwork, despite the individual danger they faced and the expressed threat to kill them all, these four officers prevailed, eliminating not only the deadly threat to themselves, but also to persons yet unknown and other law enforcement officers who may have crossed paths with this desperate fugitive.
For their actions in this incident. Officers Patrick Butheris, Thomas Westbrook, Sylvia Petrossian and Daniel Silver are awarded Bronze Medals of Valor.