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2008 Medal of Valor Recipients
To be awarded the Medal of Valor, an officer shall have performed an act displaying extreme courage while consciously facing imminent peril.
It is awarded by the Police Commissioners and is presented by the Chief of Police, in the name of the Los Angeles Police Department at the annual Medal of Valor awards ceremony.
Officer Carlos Quintero Officer Ivan Vintamilla
On the morning of August 26, 2006, Officer Carlos Quintero and his partner, Officer Ivan Vintamilla were driving northbound on the Harbor Freeway, when they saw a California Highway Patrol Officer with a fire extinguisher, running toward a burning motor home. Quintero and Vintamilla immediately stopped and grabbed a fire extinguisher from the trunk of their police vehicle. Attempts to extinguish the raging fire in the engine compartment and front end of the motor home proved futile, as the fire had reached a stage far beyond the capabilities of their equipment.
As the fire quickly engulfed the motor home, the officers heard a noise coming from inside. Believing it might be occupied, Vintamilla gained entry into the motor home. Visibility was virtually nonexistent due to the heavy smoke, and Vintamilla quickly began to run out of fresh air when he saw what appeared to be a person.
Vintamilla quickly advised Quintero and the Higway Patrol Officer there was someone inside the motor home, but the thick clouds of smoke, heat and flames prevented the rescue efforts. So the officers formulated a plan to break the rear window and attempt to extract the victim. Quintero climbed the ladder on the rear of the motor home and broke the window with his side handle baton. Quintero's efforts were stifled by the extensive amount of smoke, heat, and flames. After several attempts, Quintero was able to reach through the rear window and grab the victim. Immediately he realized an alternative means would be needed to extricate the victim. Quintero removed his baton and held it out toward the victim and advised him to grab the baton so he could pull him out. As Quintero began to pull the victim out, the victim's lower extremities caught fire. Quintero continued to struggle with the rescue attempt until the victim released his grasp of the baton after becoming fully engulfed in flames.
The Fire Department arrived at this time and extinguished the fire. Unfortunately, the victim died at the scene as a result of his injuries.
Officer Thomas Appleby Officer Isaac Moreno Officer Humberto Franco
Shortly before midnight on July 13, 2005, Officer Humberto Franco, assigned to North Hollywood Area, conducted a traffic stop. As Franco approached the vehicle, he noticed the driver and two passengers moving in what seemed to be an attempt to conceal something. Franco was about to request an additional unit when Van Nuys Area Gang Impact Team Officers Thomas Appleby and Isaac Moreno arrived on the scene.
After a short briefing, Franco took a position of cover while Appleby and Moreno assumed the lead. All occupants were ordered out of the vehicle. Both the driver and the rear passenger then exited the vehicle and after a brief standoff, the front passenger also exited the vehicle. As contact was made with the rear passenger, the front passenger rushed into vehicular traffic, armed with a hidden handgun and begun firing several shots at the three officers as he ran from the scene.
Appleby returned fire while he and fellow officer Moreno gave chase of the now armed suspect. Simultaneously, Franco secured the other uncooperative suspects and contacted Communications Division to request back-up.
In his desperate attempt to get away, the suspect pointed his gun at a passing vehicle, forced the driver to stop and entered the vehicle as the driver fled from it. The suspect then exited the vehicle and pointed his weapon at Appleby, but did not fire. Again, due to background concerns, Appleby did not fire his weapon and the foot pursuit continued.
As the suspect approached a nearby motel, he ignored orders to drop his weapon. Instead, he again pointed his gun at Appleby. Both Appleby and Moreno then fired at the suspect. Still refusing to surrender, the now injured suspect hid behind a building in the motel parking lot. Without warning, the armed suspect suddenly reappeared and fired rounds at the officers. Both officers again returned fire, causing the suspect to fall to the ground.
The suspect, though injured and on the ground, reached for his weapon and again pointed it at the officers. Both officers simultaneously fired their weapons at the suspect. The suspect immediately dropped his weapon and fell onto his back. Both officers approached the suspect and took him into custody. Shortly thereafter, the suspect succumbed to his injuries.
Officer Jesus Parra Officer Jesse Cardenas
In the late hours of February 28, 2007, Newton Area Patrol Officers Jesse Cardenas and Jesus Parra heard a radio call reporting that someone was trapped inside a burning vehicle. Cardenas and Parra responded immediately and were on the scene in less than 60 seconds.
Upon arriving, they found the vehicle fully engulfed in flames but also noticed that the reverse lights of the vehicle illuminated. Based on this observation, the Officers quickly concluded that someone may be trapped inside the burning vehicle.
With a total disregard for their own safety, Cardenas and Parras rushed to the burning vehicle. Cardenas immediately smashed the front driver's side window with his baton and unlocked the front door. With the vehicle quickly becoming engulfed in flames, both officers braved the searing heat and billowing clouds of thick pungent smoke, to try to locate a victim before it was too late. They both found an unconscious male in the driver's seat of the vehicle. As the flames began to engulf the dashboard, both Cardenas and Parra grabbed the still unconscious victim by the arms, and pulled him out of the vehicle. Cardenas then placed both arms around the victim and dragged him away from the burning vehicle. Simultaneously, Parra forced open the back door of the vehicle and checked for additional victims. Seconds after the victim was dragged away from the burning vehicle, the interior of the vehicle became totally overcome in flames.
The initial assessment by the Los Angeles Fire Department determined that a fuel leak and an overheated engine caused the fire. The victim was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene. Once the victim was stabilized, he revealed he had recently fallen on hard times and had been forced to live in his vehicle. He stated he had been unconscious up to the point he was pulled from his car by the two officers. Witnesses, including Police Officers from Air Support Division, who were flying overhead, and a news photographer who captured the footage on tape, all firmly believe that if Cardenas and Parra had arrived a mere 30 seconds later, or had hesitated in any manner, the victim would have certainly died in the fire.
Officer Joel Flores Officer Steve Chung
In the early morning hours of January 17, 1997, Officer Joel Flores and his partner, then Officer Steve Chung, assigned to West Valley Area, were on routine patrol driving on Ventura Boulevard. They noticed a vehicle speeding out of a market parking lot and then run through a red tri-light signal. Because of the driver's erratic driving, Flores and Chung believed the driver was either impaired, or the vehicle may have been recently stolen.
Chung completed a U-turn in an effort to intercept the driver. The vehicle continued to accelerate and eventually the officers lost sight of it. Believing the vehicle had pulled off Ventura Boulevard, the officers checked driveways, parking lots, and cross streets. Suddenly, the power to streetlights and lighting to local businesses went out near the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Wilbur Street.
As the officers approached the intersection, they noticed the vehicle had collided with both a sign and power pole at a Burger King parking lot. The front end of the car was up against the poles and a fire had started in the engine compartment. The scene was further complicated by the presence of down, live, power lines next to the vehicle.
Inside the vehicle was a 15 year-old, male driver who had taken his parents' new vehicle without their permission. The teenager was aware the vehicle was on fire, but unable to move his right leg. Trapped inside the vehicle, the teenager began screaming for the officers' help, "Get me out of the car, please, I can't move!"
As heavy smoke billowed into the compartment of the burning vehicle, both officers rushed to rescue the trapped teenager. Still aware of the previous actions and behavior of the driver, Chung cautiously approached the vehicle and cleared it, as Flores maintained his observation of the teenager. Chung and Flores safely maneuvered their approach over the live power lines. After clearing the vehicle they ignored the intense heat and flames coming from the vehicle. They noticed the teenager's leg was broken and twisted upward in an unnatural position. Without hesitation, both officers opened the driver's door, pulled the teenager from the car and dragged him to safety. Approximately 20 seconds after the rescue, the interior of the vehicle became totally engulfed in flames. Had it not been for the quick thinking and actions of Flores and Chung, the teenager would have died.
Officer Scott Burkett
On the evening of September 20, 2004, Officer Scott Burkett and his partner, assigned to Southeast Division, responded to a domestic violence radio call at a residence. While interviewing a witness, Burkett heard two gunshots coming from a nearby intersection. Burkett immediately alerted his partner and armed with only his service pistol, headed toward the direction of the gunshots. Burkett knew that families were home from work and school and these families were in immediate danger.
As Burkett approached the intersection, he heard three to four additional gunshots. Believing he was about to encounter a shooting in progress, Burkett drew his weapon. Burkett observed a black vehicle stopped in the intersection and a male victim with gunshot wounds lying on the street. The driver of the black vehicle was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and had it pointed in Burkett's direction. Burkett took a position of cover behind a parked vehicle and prepared for an assault. As the suspect drove his vehicle toward him, Burkett ordered the suspect to stop. The suspect did not comply and continued toward Burkett. Fearing for his life, Burkett fired several rounds at the suspect and took cover behind another vehicle. the suspect negotiated a U-turn and again drove toward Burkett. Faced with the continuing deadly threat, Burkett fired four additional rounds at the suspect. Unaffected by the gunfire, the suspect sped off as Burkett courageously left his position of cover, ran after the vehicle in an attempt to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle and initiated a crime broadcast.
Burkett's partner caught up to him at the intersection. There, they discovered a female witness crying next to the wounded male victim on the street. According to the female, after shooting the male victim, the suspect pointed the gun at her head and threatened to kill her. Fearing for her life, she threw herself to the ground and then saw Burkett running toward her. She added Burkett's actions saved her life.
Thanks to Burkett's crime broadcast, Southeast Officers were able to immediately locate the suspect's abandoned vehicle which resulted in the prompt identification of the suspect, who was later arrested for the murder and attempt murder.
Sergeant Gregory Hoskins Officer Matthew Murray Officer Brent Riederich
On December 24, 2004, Sergeant Gregory Hoskins observed a suspect driving a stolen vehicle which was taken at gunpoint, and requested additional units. Two units immediately responded and unsuccessfully attempted to stop the suspect's vehicle. A vehicle pursuit was initiated that traveled through the cities of San Pedro, Palos Verdes, Harbor City, Torrance, Carson, and eventually ended in the parking lot of the Hustler Casino, in the City of Gardena. Refusing to comply with orders to stop, the suspect jumped out of the stolen vehicle and pointed a gun to his own head as he walked toward the front entrance of the casino. Fearing that the suspect was about to enter a casino full of people, one of the officers unsuccessfully fired one round at the suspect as he continued into the casino.
Hoskins, along with nine officers, entered the casino in pursuit of the armed suspect. As the officers entered the casino, they observed patrons frantically scattering on the casino floor, trying to seek refuge under gaming tables. Believing the suspect had fled out of the casino, Hoskins and the officers ran toward the south exit. At this time, Officers Matthew Murray and Brent Riederich arrived at the front of the casino and observed patrons frantically running out of the casino.
While the officers exited the casino via the south door, the suspect, who was still inside the casino, walked up behind a woman hiding under a counter, pulled her to her feet and took her as his hostage. The suspect subsequently discarded the female hostage after she became disabled, and entered the gaming area of the casino. The suspect began pacing around the floor, pointed the gun to his own head and stated, "shoot me." At gunpoint, the suspect ordered a male patron, hiding under a table, to stand up, and took him as his hostage.
Hoskins immediately took supervisory control of the situation and formulated a tactical plan with Murray, Riederich and the remaining officers. With disregard for their own safety and a high degree of courage and bravery, Hoskins proceeded toward the armed suspect, keeping in constant communication with Murray and Riederich. Together, and without cover, they approached the suspect from each side.
The suspect refused to comply with orders to surrender, continued to threaten the hostage and pointed his weapon directly at Hoskins, Murray, and Riederich as they approached. Fearing for the safety of the hostage and the people still trapped in the gaming area, Murray fired one round, striking the suspect in the head. The male hostage was not injured and the suspect was taken into custody.
Detective Kyle Remolino Officer Nicholas Rothemich Officer Robert Canizales Officer Adam Niebergall Officer Christian Urbina Officer Osbaldo Ramos Officer Trevor Jackson Officer Richard Ramos
On March 10, 2005, 77th Street Area Officers Robert Canizales and Adam Niebergall observed a SUV, with two occupants, traveling in a reckless manner. Ignoring orders to stop, the driver continued at a relatively slow rate of speed. Back up units, including Officers Nicholas Rothemich, Kyle Remolino, Osbaldo Ramos and Christian Urbina, arrived on scene within minutes, and pursuit was initiated.
As the slow speed pursuit continued southbound on Vermont Avenue, the driver stopped his vehicle several times, opened his door, and threw objects at the officers, then continued driving. As the pursuing officers neared the vehicle, to within one car length, the driver responded by firing a volley of rounds at the officers from an automatic weapon. This first volley of rounds shattered the windshield of Rothemich and Remolino's police vehicle. The driver then negotiated a U-turn and fired a second volley of rounds at the pursuing officers. Though faced with imminent peril, the officers continued pursuing the suspects in their attempt to protect the lives of innocent citizens.
During the pursuit, the driver negotiated several U-turns as he drove up and down Vermont Avenue. He slowed or stopped approximately 10 times, at which point he or the passenger fired 15 to 50 rounds at pursuing officers. during the third volley of rounds from the suspects, Ramos and Urbina's windshield was also hit. Pursuing officers also noted the passenger inside the Blazer was utilizing a laser-equipped rifle. During these assaults, none of the officers returned fire in order to protect innocent pedestrians.
Approximately 40 minutes later, Officers Trevor Jackson and Richard Ramos joined the pursuit an maneuvered their police vehicle into position after receiving permission to engage the suspects with their shotgun. Placing himself and his partner in imminent peril, Richard Ramos drove up to the passenger's side of the vehicle and was immediately fired upon. Richard Ramos quickly changed his approach by driving up to the driver's side of the vehicle. However, they were again fired upon before Jackson could engage the suspects. Despite taking rounds from both suspects, Jackson managed to fire four rounds from his shotgun. While Jackson reloaded, Richard Ramos provided cover fire with his service weapon. The suspects then collided into a fence at the northwest corner of Vernon and Vermont Avenue.
Seconds after the collision, multiple rounds were fired from both suspects, causing officers to return fire. At the end of the gun battle, the third biggest in the department's history, the passenger int he vehicle was deceased and the driver was seriously injured. During the investigation, it was discovered that the driver had bragged earlier that day that they would be in a "shoot out" with the police.
Miraculously, no officer was injured during the assault and subsequent gun battle. Jackson and Richard Ramos had 14 perforating impact rounds in their windshield, one on the right side mirror and four non-perforating impact rounds inside the engine compartment. Remolino and Rothemich had one perforating impact round to their windshield. Urbina and Osbaldo Ramos also had one perforating impact round to their windshield.