LAPD Above and Beyond event honors courage and bravery in protecting the City.

Police Dept.’s annual event honors 29 heroes with Purple Heart, Medal of Valor and Preservation of Life honors.

Stories and photos courtesy Los Angeles Police Foundation

On Sept. 27, 2018, the LAPD hosted its important annual “Above and Beyond” ceremony, which this year honored 29 officers who have demonstrated the highest level of courage and bravery in protecting the City.

The event was held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel downtown.

This year’s event contained the awarding of not just Medals of Valor, but also Purple Heart medals. Purple Hearts have been distributed only seven times in the history of the event. This year, two LAPD Officers were honored with the Purple Heart, 16 with the Medal of Honor, and 11 with the Preservation of Life. One officer received both the Purple Heart and the Medal of Valor.

For the third time, the LAPD awarded the Preservation of Life medal, a recognition of new efforts at de-escalation of public safety situations by avoiding the use of deadly force during dangerous encounters. The Dept. is one of only a handful in the country to bestow such an honor.

The Purple Heart recognizes officers who have sustained grievous physical injury during a tactical situation and posthumously to the next of kin of those officers who did not survive their injuries.

The Medal of Valor is awarded to officers who distinguish themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of police service. To be awarded the Medal of Valor, an officer shall have preformed an act displaying extreme courage while consciously facing imminent peril.

The medals are awarded by the Board of Police Commissioners and presented by the Chief of Police in the name of the Department at the annual ceremony. The award consists of a medal, ribbon, and citation. The Medal of Valor was first presented in 1925, and the Purple Heart was first awarded in 2009.

The awards ceremony is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Los Angeles Police Foundation.

This Year’s Honorees

Purple Heart
Officer Edgar Soto
Policeman Russell Stevens

Medal of Valor
Sgt. Scott Davis
Officer Hans Almaraz
Officer Steve Carnevale
Officer Nhut Huynh
Officer Steve Jenkins
Officer Alan Ramirez
Officer Jason Schwab
Officer Lloyd De Charmoy Bouchet
Officer Juan Lopez
Officer Andrew Paxton
Officer Thomas Schoonyan
Officer Evan Mott
Officer Sal Obaidee
Officer Anthony Valenzuela
Officer Jeromy Paciorkowski
Officer Paul Razo
Special consideration: K-9 Edo

Preservation of Life
Sgt. Michael Porter
Officer John Acosta
Officer Bruce Adam
Officer Enrique Anzaldo
Officer Rene Gonzalez
Officer Suzanna Kazarian
Officer Gregory Martin
Officer Timothy McCarthy
Officer Isaac Moreno
Officer Brandon Greiner
Officer Isidro Rodriguez


The stories of their bravery follow.

Purple Heart

 


Struck by SUV


Officer Edgar Soto

 

On the morning of Jan, 24, 2009, Officer Edgar Soto and his partner were working Northeast Area Patrol in full uniform and driving a clearly marked black and white police vehicle when they were struck by a DUI driver in a Hummer. The SUV hit the car with such force that it caused the black and white to become airborne, careening for approximately one block until it collided head-on into a post that was about 200 feet away from the initial collision.

The engine block, steering column, and pedals were pushed into the passenger compartment, crushing and trapping Officer Soto. The Los Angeles Fire Department needed the Jaws of Life to extricate him from the mangled remains of the vehicle.

Soto was hospitalized for 10 days, suffering a shattered right tibia and ankle that required reconstructive surgery along with a laceration to his face that needed sutures. Unable to walk following the accident, he worked tirelessly in physical therapy to regain strength and mobility and began walking four months later. Ten months after the collision, Officer Soto returned to work in a light-duty capacity and was cleared for full duty eight months later. He has a titanium rod and pins in his right leg and still suffers lingering pain.


Park Patrol


Policeman Russell D. Stevens

 

In the late evening hours of Aug. 11, 1968, Central Division Policeman Russell Stevens was assigned traffic control duties at what is now known as Ted Watkins Memorial Park. A public disturbance broke out, and all of the officers were reassigned to crowd control in the park.

As Stevens was moving people out of the park, he and his partners came under fire. He was hit in both legs with shotgun pellets.

Policeman Stevens returned to duty less than two weeks later and retired from the Department in 1990.

Medal of Valor

 


Hostage Shootout


Sgt. Scott Davis

 


Officer Hans Almaraz

 


Officer Steve Carnevale

 


Officer Nhut Huynh

 


Officer Steve Jenkins

 


Officer Alan Ramirez

 


Officer Jason Schwab

 


K-9 Edo

 

At approximately 10 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2016, Metro K-9 Platoon Sgt. Scott Davis and Officers Hans Almaraz, Steve Carnevale, Nhut Huynh, Steve Jenkins, Alan Ramirez, Jason Schwab, and K-9 Edo were in the process of completing a K-9 search for a burglary suspect in Newton Area while monitoring a pursuit in Harbor Division.

Harbor Officers were in pursuit of two suspects that had been identified as committing a grand theft auto and were thought to be responsible for a recent series of armed robberies and a homicide in the San Fernando Valley. During the course of the pursuit, the passenger exited the vehicle and carjacked another vehicle, firing shots at the two occupants. The pursuing Officers elected to follow this second suspect who just committed the carjacking. During the pursuit, he lost control of his vehicle and crashed, running from the car and forcing his way into a residence. The suspect stabbed the father inside and shot two of his sons. The father and the third son were able to escape, leaving the suspect and two wounded hostages inside.

While this situation was unfolding, the K-9 Officers broadcast that they were en-route to the scene. To prepare for what they were to encounter, Sgt. Davis contacted the on-scene Incident Commander to ensure containment was established and to get up-to-the-minute intelligence. Realizing that the K-9 team would arrive before SWAT, they knew they had quickly to form a plan of action. Carnevale was first to arrive and started gathering intelligence and putting a plan together.

When the K-9 Officers arrived, they were quickly briefed on the plan of action to rescue the two hostages and address the threat posed by the suspect. Final preparations for a tactical entry were made.

As the team approached, they were met by gunfire through the door. While the gunfire continued, Davis, without hesitation, moved forward with a ballistic shield to provide cover as Jenkins worked to breach the door. Once the door was breached, K-9 Edo went in, followed by Huynh, Jenkins, Carnevale, Almaraz, Ramirez, and Schwab. They heard a single gunshot from close proximity. K-9 Edo went directly to the two wounded hostages but quickly turned to an adjoining room and located the suspect who had sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound. K-9 Edo took a bite-hold of the suspect’s leg, pulling it to expose a handgun. The Officers provided aid to the two hostages until paramedics were given the all clear to approach. Both survived.

The Officers later learned that the suspect and his partner in the original pursuit were, in fact, responsible for the previously mentioned crime spree in the Valley, including the homicide.


Domestic Stabbing


Officer Lloyd De Charmoy Bouchet


Officer Juan Lopez


Officer Andrew Paxton


Officer Thomas Schoonyan

On Dec. 2, 2014, Central Division Officers Juan Lopez and Thomas Schoonyan responded to a 9-1-1 call from neighbors in an apartment building who heard one of the residents screaming for her life.

A man and woman had been in their apartment drinking and smoking marijuana and crack cocaine when the man became angry with the woman when she failed to give him the crack cocaine fast enough, police allege. He began attacking her with a pair of scissors, stabbing her multiple times in the face and neck, and blocked the front door so she could not leave. He also used a kitchen knife to stab her in the chest and arm, as she repeatedly screamed for help.

The building’s security guard was notified of the problem and went to the unit when he heard the woman screaming that she was being stabbed. He tried to open the door, but it was locked. Officers Lopez and Schoonyan arrived at this time and pounded on the door multiple times demanding that the residents open it. The woman screamed, “Help me! Help me! He’s stabbing me! There is blood all over the place. I can’t get to the door.”

Schoonyan tried to breach the fire-rated steel-framed door multiple times but was unsuccessful. Officers Lloyd de Charmoy Bouchet and Andrew Paxton arrived at the scene, and Bouchet took over trying to breach the door when Paxton heard the male say, “I’m not going to unlock the door,” as the woman continued to scream for help. Paxton broadcast an urgent request for breaching tools. The breaching ram was delivered, and Bouchet used it to hit the door multiple times, successfully breaking a hole through the handle. Seeing that Bouchet was becoming fatigued, Schoonyan took over and began striking the deadbolt, finally breaking the door open and then stepping back to tactically assess the situation. Lopez entered the apartment with his service weapon drawn, while Paxton entered armed with a Taser.

The Officers observed the man covered in blood, standing in front of the woman who was leaning across the sink with her legs dangling over the countertop. The man raised his arm with the knife in his hand. Lopez and Paxton ordered him to move back, but he ignored their commands and moved toward the woman while bringing the weapon down in her direction. Fearing for her life, Lopez fired one round while Paxton deployed his Taser at the same time. The man fell to the ground.

Schoonyan rushed to the female and used a towel to apply pressure to the bleeding from her neck. Paxton, who had prior EMT training, took over rendering aid until an ambulance arrived. The victim was treated for multiple stab wounds and lacerations to her face, neck, upper chest, upper left arm, and right hand and was hospitalized for nine days but survived.


Rescuing a Baby


Officer Evan Mott

 


Officer Sal Obaidee

 


Officer Anthony Valenzuela

 

In the early morning hours of Jan. 2, 2018, Officers Evan Mott and Sal Obaidee were conducting extra patrol in Southeast Division when they observed fire coming from a second floor unit of a two-story apartment complex. Officer Obaidee immediately broadcast for the Fire Dept. to respond and for backup. Without hesitation, the Officers began knocking on the doors of each unit to alert the residents to evacuate. They then made their way upstairs toward the burning apartment to see if anyone was inside. They were joined by Officer Anthony Valenzuela, who had responded to the call for backup.

To reach the apartment that was on fire, the three Officers had to run past a wall of flames coming from a window. After knocking on the door and receiving no response, Officer Obaidee opened the front door and was met with thick black smoke. The Officers called out to see if anyone was inside, but no one responded. Believing everyone had already evacuated, they turned their attention to the unit next door where they heard screaming.

They told the occupants that they needed to immediately evacuate, but one of the residents started screaming, “Help my baby!” She then handed her seven-month-old infant to Officer Obaidee, who took him to safety by ducking underneath the flames and running past the burning unit. Mott assisted another resident by lifting her over the balcony into the arms of a person downstairs because she was too afraid to go past the fire. Officers Obaidee and Mott returned to the unit to join Officer Valenzuela in making sure no one else was inside and to clear the rest of the building. In total, the Officers escorted four residents to safety.


Rescue From Fire


Officer Jeromy Paciorkowski

 

On the evening of Aug. 31, 2017, Officer Jeromy Paciorkowski and his partner were conducting crime suppression activities in Harbor Area when they observed thick black smoke coming from the second-story windows of a nearby residence.

They responded to the area and were immediately advised by other residents that people were trapped inside the burning building. As they approached the residence, they saw two men standing on the second story roof landing, trying to pry the security bars of the window off while yelling at them that a child was trapped inside.

Immediately and without hesitation, Officer Paciorkowski climbed a nearby ladder to the second floor landing just as the men pulled the security bars off of the window. He saw smoke billowing from the window and felt an intense heat coming from inside. With little regard for his own safety, Officer Paciorkowski positioned himself in front of the window, reached inside the burning structure, and, together with the two men, pulled a child out of the apartment through the window and onto the roof.

Once the child was on the roof, he saw that she had significant burns to her legs and face and that she was not breathing. He immediately began CPR in an effort to revive the girl. She began breathing but did not regain consciousness. Officer Paciorkowski continued to administer first aid to the child until LAFD paramedics arrived and relieved him.

During the incident, Officer Paciorkowski suffered disorientation and pain to his lungs from the smoke inhalation. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The subsequent investigation into the cause of the fire revealed it was intentionally set by another resident who wanted to commit suicide.


Car Accident


Officer Paul Razo

 

On the evening of July 19, 2016, Hollywood Division Officer Paul Razo was off-duty and driving in Glendora with his brother when they witnessed a car collide against a large tree in the center divider. Concerned for the vehicle’s occupants, Officer Razo stopped to check on them when he saw that smoke was coming from the engine compartment. He ran to the driver’s side door, but it would not open. He then ran to the passenger side door and noticed there was a person in the passenger seat.

Officer Razo used his hands to forcefully pull the glass window away from its frame, causing it to shatter. Once the window was broken, he reached in, moved the airbags, and observed the driver slumped over the steering wheel. Tragically, she was killed upon impact. However, the passenger was screaming frantically that he was trapped inside the car.

At this time, the car became engulfed in flames. Unable to open the passenger’s door, Officer Razo leaned inside the burning car, unbuckled the passenger’s seatbelt, and attempted to pull him out through the window opening. The intensity of the fire made it extremely difficult for Officer Razo to maintain his position. Determined to remove the man from the burning wreck, Officer Razo had to break away several times to catch his breath from the heavy smoke and intense heat. Without regard for his own life or safety, he continued his attempts to extract the passenger when he noticed the passenger’s legs had caught on fire. He then had his brother help him pull the passenger out of the window so that he could drag him away from the car.

Officer Razo, who never once identified himself as an off-duty officer, was treated for minor cuts to his arms and hands and for smoke inhalation. But for his actions, the passenger surely would have perished in the fire.

Preservation of Life

 


Fire, Resisting Arrest


Sgt. Michael Porter

 


Officer John Acosta

 


Officer Bruce Adam

 


Officer Enrique Anzaldo

 


Officer Rene Gonzalez

 


Officer Suzanna Kazarian

 


Officer Gregory Martin

 


Officer Timothy McCarthy

 


Officer Isaac Moreno

 

On the morning of April 22, 2017, North Hollywood Division Officers John Acosta and Suzanna Kazarian responded to a radio call of a neighborhood dispute. Upon arrival, the Officers were met by the person who had made the call and were informed that there was an ongoing dispute between her and her neighbor and that she had a restraining order against him. However, the restraining order was not in effect because the neighbor had not been served.

While the Officers stood in the driveway explaining the process for serving a restraining order, the suspect approached them from behind and took an aggressive shooting stance while holding what looked like either a rifle or shotgun with a cloth over it. The officers immediately took cover behind a car parked in the driveway and ordered him to drop the weapon. He ignored the commands and fled toward an apartment complex. The Officers called for backup and chased the suspect on foot until he ran up the stairs of the complex. At that point, Officers Acosta and Kazarian held their position and directed responding units to establish containment.

Supervisors arrived on scene, confirmed containment had been established, and initiated a surround and callout with an airship. The suspect did not respond or make his whereabouts known. At that point, SWAT was notified of a barricaded suspect and a Forward Advisory Support Team (FAST) was dispatched to the location.

While they waited for the FAST team to arrive, the Officers on scene started to evacuate the apartment complex. During this process, two of the suspect’s brothers arrived and informed the Officers that the suspect used methamphetamine and suffered from delusional paranoia. Additionally, he was known to booby trap his apartment and had a camera trained on his front door so he could see when people approached. The Officers also learned that one of the residents who evacuated was forced to leave behind a large oxygen tank.

By now, SWAT FAST team Officers Bruce Adam, Enrique Anzaldo, Rene Gonzalez, Gregory Martin, Timothy McCarthy and Isaac Moreno had arrived with Sgt. Michael Porter. Sgt. Porter assumed tactical command and tried to open a line of communication with the suspect. After hours of negotiations, the suspect opened his door, stepped out holding a stick in his hand, and yelled at Officers to shoot him. Officer Anzaldo told him the Officers would use force if he did not comply. The suspect responded that the Officers were scared of him and that he would start a fire to make them “do something.” He then walked back into his apartment and closed the door.

A short time later, he reopened his door and exited while holding a stick in one hand and a metal pipe in another, and walked aggressively toward Officers Gonzalez and Adam. Officer Adam was forced to fire three 40-mm projectile rounds at his abdomen, which caused him to drop his weapons and fall to the ground temporarily. He got up, grabbed his weapons, and went back into the apartment. Each time the suspect reentered his apartment, FAST team Officers could hear him barricading the front door.

Officer McCarthy took a position at the backside of the apartment and saw the suspect place a mattress, which was engulfed in flames, onto the outside balcony. He also saw that the inside of the apartment was on fire. Officer McCarthy broadcasted his observations to FAST team members who immediately initiated rescue measures to try to save the suspect from serious bodily injury and/or death. Prior to entering the apartment, though, the FAST team had to consider the fact that a large oxygen tank was next door and could explode if the fire spread. To prevent this from happening, the Officers used breaching tools to open the door manually.

They entered and saw the suspect hiding behind the stove, but he refused to leave when they ordered him out. With fire and smoke engulfing the apartment, Officer Martin saw the suspect come out from the kitchen holding a long, jagged piece of wood. Martin fired one beanbag round and struck him in the abdomen, causing him to drop his weapon and fall. They immediately moved in to take him away from the burning apartment. Once outside, he continued to resist arrest, forcing Officer Anzaldo to deploy his Taser, which had little effect. Officers Moreno, Martin, Adam and Gonzalez collectively overcame the suspect’s resistance and safely took him into custody.


Assault With Deadly Weapon


Officer Brandon Greiner

 


Officer Isidro Rodriguez

 

On the afternoon of Dec. 24, 2017, Officers Brandon Greiner and Isidro Rodriguez were working uniformed patrol in Southeast Division when they responded to a radio call of an assault with a deadly weapon suspect.

Upon arriving at the scene, the Officers encountered the suspect in the driveway of the location and observed a knife in his waistband. They ordered him to drop the knife, but he refused, pulled the knife from his waistband, and told the Officers they were going to have to shoot him. The suspect then started to walk toward the Officers while holding the knife in an attack-like position ready to stab or slash either officer. The Officers requested backup and drew their firearms in anticipation of having to defend themselves against a suspect who had created a life-threatening confrontation.

As the suspect walked toward the Officers, they backed up to maintain some distance and continued to calmly request that he drop the knife. The suspect again refused and walked towards them, causing them to back further down the driveway to where their police vehicle was parked, allowing them to take cover behind the car.

Once the sirens of the additional responding units could be heard in the background, the suspect finally dropped his knife on the ground but ignored Officers’ commands and continued approaching the Officers near where the knife had fallen. At this point, the Officers deployed a Taser, which caused the suspect to fall to the ground. Officers Greiner and Rodriguez were then able to take the suspect into custody without further incident.

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