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Disclaimer:
The LAPDonline.org® website has made reasonable efforts to provide an accurate translation. However, no automated or computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace human or traditional translation methods. The official text is the English version of the LAPDonline.org® website. If any questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information presented by the translated version of the website, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

 
2003 Medal of Valor Recipients
 
 
There are 17 officers being awarded the Medal of Valor this year. Their citations are listed below.

Officer Mark Aguilar
Officer Thomas Baker
Officer Jude Bella
Officer Roy Ceja
Officer Alan Cieto
Officer Steven Conner
Officer Raymond Diaz
Officer Guy Dobine
Officer Robert Ferrer
Officer Thomas Kimrey
Officer Carlos Langarica
Officer Jose Maldonado
Officer Ivan Ramos
Officer Raul Soto
Officer Calixto Valdivia
Officer Jesus Zaragoza
Officer Fernando Zuniga




Officer Mark Aguilar

On the evening of December 17, 2000, Officer Mark Aguilar and three other Metropolitan Division officers were flagged down by a citizen who informed them that an apartment building, located on Hollywood Boulevard, was on fire. The two-story building was occupied at the time, putting the residents inside in peril.

Arriving at the scene Officer Aguilar and the other Metropolitan Division officers cleared the front area of spectators and received information that other people were still inside the building. Officer Aguilar and another officer partnered-up, entered the burning building and immediately went up to the second floor. In the smoke filled hallway, Officer Aguilar and his partner systematically began knocking and kicking-in doors in order to determine which units were still occupied. In one apartment, Officer Aguilar and his partner assisted four people down a smoky stairway and out of the building to safety.

Both officers, light-headed from breathing the heavy fumes, cleared their lungs while outside and re-entered the building to continue their search of the second floor, clearing four additional apartments. Officer Aguilar and his partner then exited the building for air and re-entered to start clearing the first floor. Continuing toward the rear of the building, Officer Aguilar kicked-in the door of a unit to find a startled woman in her living room. Officer Aguilar and his partner quickly escorted the woman outside to safety. As the flames were engulfing the first-floor hallway, Officer Aguilar and his partner continued clearing apartments until a large rafter collapsed approximately ten feet from where his partner was standing. They exited the building and were met by the Los Angeles City Fire personnel who advised them not to re-enter the building.

Officer Aguilar and his partner proceeded to the rear of the building where they assisted the Fire Department in handling crowd control. The officers noticed a young boy hanging out of a second story window, and immediately notified Fire Department personnel and assisted them in the rescue of the boy. Suffering from the symptoms of smoke inhalation, Officer Aguilar and his partner were placed on oxygen by a responding paramedic unit and were transported to a local hospital.

Officer Mark Aguilar’s courage and tenacity during a significant life-threatening situation was instrumental in saving the lives and preventing further injuries of the residents of the apartment complex. For his outstanding courage and persistent efforts, Officer Aguilar is awarded the Medal of Valor.




Officer Thomas Baker

On the morning of July 4, 2000, Officer Thomas Baker was on patrol with his partner in Northeast Area when a radio call was broadcast of a robbery involving three males who fled in a gray colored vehicle. While en route to the call Officer Baker and his partner observed a gray vehicle, that matched the description of the robbery vehicle, drive past them in the opposite direction. Officer Baker made a U-turn and began to follow the suspect’s vehicle. The officers initiated a pursuit when the driver of the vehicle refused to stop and began to accelerate.

Officer Baker and his partner were aware that the suspects were approaching "Toonerville" gang territory, an area where there had been ambushes on Northeast Area patrol officers. While in pursuit, Officer Baker and his partner observed that the street was partially blocked by a washing machine. As Officer Baker negotiated a right-hand turn, an unknown suspect pushed a bicycle into the path of the police vehicle. As Officer Baker completed the turn, several unknown suspects fired upon the black and white police vehicle striking the driver’s door.

Undeterred by this pre-planned ambush, both officers continued the pursuit as they received gunfire from the rear. Additionally, the suspects in the gray vehicle began to fire at the officers. In an attempt to escape the unrelenting gunfire, Officer Baker rammed the back of the suspects’ vehicle, causing it to stop. The suspect in the front passenger seat exited the vehicle and pointed a semiautomatic pistol at both officers as he ran down the street. Officer Baker rammed the suspect’s vehicle again, pushing it into a fence. Officer Baker observed a suspect in the rear seat with an "Uzi" style assault weapon. Fearing that they both would again be assaulted by gunfire, Officer Baker and his partner fired at the suspect as they ran to a position of cover behind a nearby tree. With one suspect in the driver’s seat and a second armed suspect crouched in the rear seat, Officer Baker and his partner engaged the suspects once again with their service weapons.

Realizing the level of danger and threat to their lives, Officer Baker and his partner continued to communicate with each other and reloaded their duty weapons. Officer Baker calmly requested back up and additional units soon arrived and took all three suspects and their weapons into custody. Incredibly, Officer Baker and his partner were not injured during the ambush although their police vehicle was damaged by gunfire.

Officer Thomas Baker’s outstanding teamwork, communication skills and tactical expertise enabled him to prevail during a life threatening experience. For his selfless and valiant actions and commitment to the safety of the people of this City, Officer Baker is awarded with the Medal of Valor.



Officer Jude Bella

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. As Officer Jude Bella and four other officers arrived at the scene, they observed flames had engulfed the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about the area, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Bella and the other four officers took control of the situation by entering the still shaking structure to evacuate residents still inside. The officers gathered the victims by the armload and escorted them into the street and out of danger. Having cleared the building of its obvious occupants, Officer Bella and three other officers established themselves in the lobby area to organize the systematic search to locate trapped victims.

In a first-floor unit, Officer Bella and his partner discovered an elderly woman who was unable to exit her apartment. Noticing a wheelchair nearby, the officers placed the woman in the wheelchair and carried her out of the building. Without hesitation, Officer Bella and his partner re-entered the building to continue their search for additional victims.

Officer Bella and his partner continued searching the first floor, kicking open each door to check for victims. When the first fire and rescue personnel arrived, the officers were told that the ventilation system may be pushing hot smoke and fumes into undamaged apartment units and as a result those units could now have victims. Officer Bella and his partner checked and marked each unit, pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion. At times, the flames and smoke were so thick, the officers were unable to see or breathe as they searched for additional victims. Both officers would later be treated for smoke inhalation.

Officer Jude Bella’s courage, bravery and heroic actions, in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire, embodies the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding courage and persistent efforts, Officer Bella is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Roy Ceja

On the evening of Tuesday, October 24, 2000, Officer Roy Ceja and his partner, attempted a traffic stop at the intersection of 66th Street and Denker Avenue, in 77th Street Area. The driver initially stopped, but refused to cooperate with the officers’ instructions and suddenly drove off, ignoring the police vehicle’s emergency lights and sirens. The officers initiated a pursuit, drawing the response of additional police units as well as a police helicopter.

A sergeant and a captain, in two separate vehicles, joined Officer Ceja and his partner in the pursuit of the fleeing suspect. As the suspect attempted a right turn into an alley, he collided with a vehicle parked at the curb and his vehicle came to a stop. Officer Ceja and his partner stopped their vehicle to the rear of the suspect’s vehicle. The sergeant and the captain followed in their vehicles and believing that the pursuit had been terminated stopped their perspective vehicles in close proximity to the suspect’s vehicle.

The suspect, armed with a handgun, exited his vehicle and ran towards the sergeant’s vehicle, firing three rounds at the sergeant, who was still seated in his vehicle and unable to immediately defend himself. Officer Ceja drew his service weapon and pursued the suspect on foot. When Officer Ceja’s partner saw the suspect firing directly at the sergeant, he fired his service weapon, hoping to stop the suspect from killing the sergeant. Officer Ceja did not engage the suspect with gunfire, due to the potential cross fire situation with the sergeant who was in the background. The suspect ceased his attack on the sergeant and then ran towards the captain’s vehicle firing his weapon at the captain, who like the sergeant was still seated in his vehicle and unable to defend himself. Officer Ceja and his partner continued to advance on the suspect, forgoing cover in order to draw attention to themselves and away from the sergeant and captain.

The suspect abandoned his attack on the captain and ran down the street away from the officers. Officer Ceja pursued the suspect on foot. The suspect suddenly turned and started running toward Officer Ceja while firing his handgun. About 14 feet away, Officer Ceja fired two rounds at the suspect. As the suspect continued to approach, the officer fired three additional rounds. Unaffected, the suspect aimed his weapon just eight to ten inches from Officer Ceja’s torso. Officer Ceja knocked the suspect’s handgun away from his hand and sidestepped to the right. In doing so, Officer Ceja lost his footing and fell to the ground.

As Officer Ceja was falling to the ground, he heard the suspect fire an additional round that he assumed was intended for his partner. In fear of his partner’s life, Officer Ceja fired an additional three rounds at the suspect. Officer Ceja’s partner also fired at the suspect. The suspect fell to the ground, where he was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Officer Roy Ceja performed gallantly, risking his life to save the lives of others. His heroism and dedication to duty are in the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding efforts and bravery, Officer Ceja is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Alan Cieto

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. When Officer Alan Cieto and four other officers arrived at the scene, they observed flames engulfing the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about the area, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Cieto and four other officers took control of the situation by entering the still shaking structure to evacuate residents inside. The officers gathered the victims by the armload and escorted them into the street and out of danger. Having cleared the building of its obvious occupants, Officer Cieto and three other officers established themselves in the lobby area to organize the systematic search to locate trapped victims.

In a first-floor unit, Officer Cieto and his partner discovered an elderly woman who was unable to exit the apartment. Noticing a wheelchair nearby, the officers placed the woman in the wheelchair and carried her out of the building. Without hesitation, Officer Cieto and his partner re-entered the building to continue their search.

In a second-floor unit, Officer Cieto and his partner came upon an elderly couple. The woman was in her bed, warding off the effects of the smoke by remaining on her medical oxygen system, her husband was unable to move her. Officer Cieto’s partner prepared the woman for transport and Officer Cieto shut off her oxygen supply and quickly reconnected the feed to a portable oxygen bottle. Slinging the bottle over his shoulder, Officer Cieto assisted in leading the husband and wife down to the first floor and outside to safety.

Again, Officer Cieto and his partner re-entered the burning structure to continue the search for survivors. The officers kicked doors open and searched smoke filled rooms. At times the smoke and heat were so intense that Officer Cieto and his partner were forced to retreat from the fumes, fill their lungs and hold their breath as their continued their search for survivors.

Officer Alan Cieto’s courage, bravery and heroic actions, in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire, embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his bravery, outstanding and persistent efforts, Officer Cieto is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Steven Conner

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. When Officer Steven Conner and four other officers arrived at the scene, they saw flames engulfing the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about the area, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Conner and the other four officers took control of the situation by entering the still shaking structure to evacuate residents inside. The officers gathered the victims by the armload and escorted them into the street and out of danger. Having cleared the building of its obvious occupants, Officer Conner and three other officers established themselves in the lobby area to organize the systematic search to locate trapped victims.

Officer Conner and his partner began searching the first floor, kicking open each door to check for victims. When the first fire and rescue personnel arrived, the officers were told that the ventilation system may be pushing hot smoke and fumes into undamaged apartment units with victims inside. Officer Conner and his partner checked and marked each unit, pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion. The officers remained inside the burning building clearing each unit. At times, the flames were so close to the officers that they were unable to see or breathe. Both officers would later be treated for smoke inhalation.

Officer Steven Conner’s courage, bravery and heroic actions, in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire, embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding bravery and persistent efforts, Officer Conner is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Raymond Diaz

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. As Officer Raymond Diaz and his partner, and two other officers arrived at the rear of the complex, they saw flames engulfing the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about the area, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Diaz, his partner, and the other two officers began gathering panicked victims from the upper and lower parking garage areas and escorting them out of the building to safety. The officers also stopped residents and others from entering the building. In doing so, these officers undoubtedly saved the lives of dozens of people.

While Officer Diaz and two other officers were rendering first aid, an officer involved in rescuing a wheelchair-bound woman from the third floor called down for assistance. Officer Diaz and the two officers rushed back into the burning building even as secondary explosions hammered the structure. Together the four officers carried the women and the wheelchair down the stairs and out of the building to safety.

An investigation of the fire revealed that a tenant was attempting to repair his gas stove in his second floor apartment. As the victim lit a cigarette, it generated the explosion. The force of the explosion was so great that it blew the victim through the wall of his apartment and down two stories into the parking lot where he was found by other officers.

Officer Raymond Diaz’s courage, bravery, and heroic actions in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding courage and persistent efforts, Officer Diaz is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Guy Dobine

On the evening of December 17, 2000, Officer Guy Dobine and three other Metropolitan Division officers were flagged down by a citizen who informed them that an apartment building, located on Hollywood Boulevard, was on fire. The two-story building was occupied at the time, putting the residents inside in peril.

Arriving at the scene Officer Dobine and the other Metropolitan Division officers cleared the front area of spectators and received information that other people were still inside the building. Officer Dobine and another officer, partnered-up and entered the burning building and immediately went up to the second floor. In the smoke filled hallway, Officer Dobine and his partner systematically began knocking and kicking-in doors in order to determine which units were still occupied. In one apartment, Officer Dobine and his partner assisted four people down the smoky stairway and out of the building to safety.

Both officers, light-headed from breathing the heavy fumes, went outside, cleared their lungs, and re-entered the building to continue their search of the second floor, clearing four additional apartments. Officer Dobine and his partner then exited the building for air and re-entered to start clearing the first floor. Continuing toward the rear of the building, Officer Dobine’s partner kicked-in the door of a unit to find a startled woman in her living room. Officer Dobine and his partner quickly escorted the woman outside to safety. As the flames were engulfing the first-floor hallway, both officers continued clearing apartments until a large rafter collapsed approximately ten feet from where Officer Dobine was standing. They exited the building and were met by the Los Angeles City Fire personnel who advised them not to re-enter the building.

Officer Dobine and his partner then proceeded to the rear of the building where they assisted the Fire Department in handling crowd control. Noticing a young boy hanging out a second story window, the officers notified Fire Department personnel and assisted in rescuing the child. Suffering from the symptoms of smoke inhalation, Officer Dobine and his partner were put on oxygen by a responding paramedic unit and transported to a local hospital.

Officer Guy Dobine’s courage and tenacity during a significant life-threatening situation was instrumental in saving the lives and preventing further injuries of the residents of the apartment complex. For his outstanding and persistent efforts, Officer Dobine is awarded the Medal of Valor.




Officer Robert Ferrer

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. When Officer Robert Ferrer and his partner, and two other officers arrived at the rear of the complex, they observed flames engulfing the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about the area, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Ferrer, his partner, and the other two officers began gathering panicked victims from the upper and lower parking garage areas and escorting them out of the building to safety. Officer Ferrer and his partner then ran up the ramp leading to the upper parking lot and found most of the north side of the building had collapsed and was burning furiously. Officer Ferrer and his partner discovered a surviving victim, laying dazed and badly burned in the parking lot within ten feet of the flaming building. The officers realizing they could not carry the burned man without causing further injuries, began to talk him down. Burning debris rained down on both the officers and the man, as the officers were able to convince the man to walk under his own power to the bottom of the parking ramp. One large piece of burning debris struck Officer Ferrer’s partner on the head, but undaunted, he continued to focus on talking the burn victim down the ramp where an off-duty medical doctor waited to give him immediate first aid.

While his partner was attending to other victims, Officer Ferrer heard a frantic call for help from the third floor where a wheelchair-bound woman was trapped in her apartment. Running up a stairwell that was filled with smoke, Officer Ferrer located the apartment where the woman and her relatives were trying to evacuate. Taking over, Officer Ferrer began pushing the women in the wheelchair while shepherding her relatives toward the stairwell. Managing to get the woman down to the second floor, he called down to his partner and two other officers who rushed into the building as secondary explosions hammered the structure. The four officers carried the disabled woman down the last two flights of stairs and out of the building to safety.

An investigation of the fire revealed that the rescued burn victim found in the parking lot was a tenant who was attempting to repair his gas stove in his second floor apartment. As the victim lit a cigarette, it generated the explosion. The force of the explosion was so great that it blew the victim through the wall of his apartment and down two stories into the parking lot where the officers found him.

Officer Robert Ferrer’s courage, bravery and heroic actions in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire, embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding bravery and persistent efforts to save lives, Officer Ferrer is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Thomas Kimrey

On the evening of Tuesday, October 24, 2000, Officer Thomas Kimrey and his partner, attempted a traffic stop at the intersection of 66th Street and Denker Avenue in 77th Street Area. The driver, refusing to cooperate with the officers’ instructions, suddenly drove off failing to stop for the emergency lights and sirens. The officers initiated a pursuit, drawing the response of additional police units as well as a police helicopter.

A sergeant and a captain in two separate vehicles joined Officer Kimrey and his partner in the pursuit of the fleeing suspect. As the suspect attempted a right turn into an alley, he collided with a vehicle parked at the curb and the suspect’s vehicle came to a stop. Officer Kimrey and his partner stopped their vehicle to the rear of the suspect’s vehicle. The sergeant and the captain, following in their vehicles and believing that the pursuit had been terminated, stopped in close proximity to the suspect’s vehicle.

The suspect, armed with a handgun, exited his vehicle and ran towards the sergeant’s vehicle firing three rounds into the vehicle. Officer Kimrey’s partner drew his service weapon and pursued the suspect on foot. When Officer Kimrey saw the suspect firing directly into the sergeant’s vehicle, he fired his service pistol at the suspect, in an attempt to stop the suspect from killing the sergeant who was unable to defend himself. The suspect then began firing at the captain’s vehicle. In order to draw attention to himself and away from the captain, Officer Kimrey’s partner continued to advance on the subject forgoing cover.

The suspect abandoned his attack on the sergeant and captain and ran down the street away from the officers. Officer Kimrey’s partner followed the suspect on foot when the suspect turned and started running toward him, closing in fast and firing his handgun. Just seconds behind, Officer Kimrey observed his partner and the suspect engaged in a gunfight at close range. During the battle, Officer Kimrey observed his partner lose his footing and fall to the ground. Officer Kimrey, in an attempt to draw the suspect’s attention away from his partner, fired his service weapon at the suspect. As the suspect responded to Officer Kimrey’s gunfire, his partner regained his footing, and fired at the suspect. The suspect sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was taken into custody.

Officer Thomas Kimrey performed gallantly, risking his life to save the lives of others. His heroism and dedication to duty are in the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding heroic efforts, Officer Kimrey is awarded the Medal of Valor.




Officer Carlos Langarica

On the morning of July 4, 2000, Officer Carlos Langarica was on patrol with his partner in Northeast Area when a radio call was broadcast of a robbery involving three males driving in a gray colored vehicle. While en route to the call, Officer Langarica and his partner observed a gray vehicle that matched the description of the robbery vehicle drive past them in the opposite direction. Officer Langarica’s partner negotiated a U-turn and began to follow the suspect’s vehicle. The driver of the vehicle refused to stop and began to accelerate causing the officers to initiate a pursuit.

Officer Langarica and his partner were aware that the suspects were approaching "Toonerville" gang territory, an area where there had been ambushes on Northeast Area patrol officers. While in pursuit, Officer Langarica and his partner observed that the street was partially blocked by a washing machine. As Officer Langarica’s partner was negotiating a right-hand turn, an unknown suspect pushed a bicycle into the path of the police vehicle. As Officer Langarica’s partner completed the turn, both officers were ambushed by gunfire. Several unknown suspects fired upon the black and white police vehicle, striking the driver’s door. Officer Langarica’s partner felt a bullet sail past his leg through the door of the vehicle.

Undeterred by this pre-planned ambush, both officers continued the pursuit as they received gunfire from the rear. Additionally, the suspects in the gray vehicle began to fire at the officers. In an attempt to escape the unrelenting gunfire, Officer Langarica’s partner rammed the back of the suspects’ vehicle, causing it to stop. The suspect in the front passenger seat exited the vehicle armed with a semiautomatic pistol and ran down the street pointing his gun at both officers. Officer Langarica’s partner rammed the vehicle once again, pushing it into a fence. The officers observed a suspect in the rear seat with an "Uzi" style assault weapon. Fearing that they both would again be assaulted by gunfire, Officer Langarica and his partner fired at the suspect as they ran to a position of cover behind a nearby tree. With one suspect in the driver’s seat and a second armed suspect crouched in the rear seat, Officer Langarica and his partner engaged the suspects once again with their service weapons.

Realizing the level of danger and threat to their lives, Officer Langarica and his partner continued to communicate with each other and reloaded their duty weapons. Officer Langarica’s partner calmly requested back up and additional units soon arrived and took all three suspects and their weapons into custody. Incredibly, Officer Langarica and his partner were not injured during the ambush although their police vehicle was damaged by gunfire.

Officer Carlos Langarica’s outstanding teamwork, communication skills and tactical expertise enabled him to prevail during a life threatening experience. For his selfless and valiant actions and commitment to the safety of the people of this City, Officer Langarica is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Jose Maldonado

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. When Officer Jose Maldonado and four other officers arrived at the scene, they saw flames engulfing the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about the area, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Maldonado and the other four officers took control of the situation by entering the flaming structure to evacuate residents still inside. The officers gathered the victims by the armload and escorted them into the street and out of danger. Having cleared the building of its obvious occupants, Officer Maldonado and three other officers established themselves in the lobby area to organize the systematic search to locate trapped victims.

Officer Maldonado and his partner began searching for trapped victims and at times, the flames were so close that they were unable to see or breathe. In a second-floor unit, Officer Maldonado and his partner came upon an elderly couple. The woman was in her bed, warding off the effects of the smoke by utilizing her medical oxygen system. Her husband was unable to move her. Officer Maldonado prepared the woman for transport as his partner shut off her oxygen supply and quickly reconnected the feed to a portable oxygen bottle. Officer Maldonado and his partner then led the husband and wife down to the first floor and outside to safety.

Officer Maldonado and his partner re-entered the burning structure, kicked open doors and searched smoke filled rooms for additional survivors. At times, the heat and smoke were so intense that the officers were forced to retreat from the fumes to fill their lungs with non-toxic air. The officers would then rush back into an apartment, holding their breath as they searched for survivors.

Officer Jose Maldonado’s courage, bravery, and heroic actions, in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire, embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding and persistent efforts, Officer Maldonado is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Ivan Ramos

On the evening of December 17, 2000, Officer Ivan Ramos and three other Metropolitan Division officers were flagged down by a citizen who informed them that an apartment building, located on Hollywood Boulevard, was on fire. The two-story building was occupied at the time, putting the residents inside in peril.

Arriving at the scene Officer Ramos notified Communications Division, requesting response from the Fire Department. Officer Ramos and the other Metropolitan Division officers were alerted that people were still inside the building. All four officers entered the burning structure kicking in doors in an effort to get the occupants outside. Officer Ramos encountered a woman too afraid to open her door. Officer Ramos gained her trust and assisted her out of the burning structure. Returning immediately to the second floor, Officer Ramos crawled on the floor looking for additional trapped residents. When it became to dangerous on the second floor, due to toxic smoke and flames, Officer Ramos ran down to the first floor to assist in the evacuation efforts there.

Because of the extreme heat and smoke, each of the officers would exit the structure gasping for fresh air. The officers would then return to the burning building in an attempt to rescue more occupants. As the fire spread and Officer Ramos was forced to leave the building, he discovered a woman trapped leaning out of her second apartment window. The Fire Department had not arrived and no ladders were available. Thinking quickly, Officer Ramos moved a large trash-filled dumpster beneath the woman’s window in an effort to break her fall. The woman positioned herself as close to the dumpster as possible and jumped, landing on the intended target. Officer Ramos then assisted her out of the dumpster and escorted her to a safe location. The Fire Department arrived soon after and took over the rescue operations.

Suffering from the symptoms of smoke inhalation, Officer Ramos and the other officers were put on oxygen by a responding paramedic unit and transported to a local hospital.

Officer Ivan Ramos’ courage and tenacity during a significant life-threatening situation was instrumental in saving the lives and preventing further injuries of the residents of the apartment complex. For his outstanding and persistent efforts, Officer Ramos is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Raul Soto

On the evening of December 17, 2000, Officer Raul Soto, assigned to Hollywood Patrol Division, responded to a radio broadcast of a major structure fire of an apartment building on East Hollywood Boulevard. Responding immediately, he was the first patrol unit to arrive at the scene. The two-story building was occupied at the time, putting the residents inside in peril.

Officer Soto was joined by four Metropolitan Division officers who had arrived at the scene. Assessing that an evacuation of the building was critical, Officer Soto and the other officers entered the burning structure and immediately began directing residents out of the building. In smoke filled hallways, Officer Soto and the other officers systematically began knocking and kicking-in doors in order to determine which units were still occupied. Officer Soto personally escorted several of the building’s residents to safety.

All the officers, light-headed from breathing the heavy toxic fumes, would momentarily exit the building, clear their lungs and re-entered the structure to continue their search. When the toxic smoke and flames became unbearable, Officer Soto exited the building and ran toward the rear of the structure. Officer Soto observed several people screaming for help out of their second story windows. As the Fire Department arrived at the scene, Officer Soto obtained a ladder placed it under a second floor window, allowing several trapped residents to climb down to safety.

Suffering from the symptoms of smoke inhalation, Officer Soto and the other officers were put on oxygen by a responding paramedic unit and were transported to a local hospital.

Officer Raul Soto’s courage and tenacity during a significant life-threatening situation was instrumental in saving the lives and preventing further injuries of the residents of the apartment complex. For his outstanding and persistent efforts, Officer Soto is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Calixto Valdivia

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. When Officer Calixto Valdivia and his partner, and two other officers arrived at the rear of the complex, they saw flames engulfing the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Valdivia, his partner, and the other two officers began gathering panicked victims from the upper and lower parking garage areas and escorted them out of the building to safety. The officers also stopped residents and others from entering the building. In doing so, these officers undoubtedly saved the lives of dozens of people.

While Officer Valdivia and the two other officers were rendering first aid, an officer involved in rescuing a wheelchair-bound woman from the third floor called down for assistance. Officer Valdivia and the two officers rushed back into the burning building even as secondary explosions hammered the structure. Together, the four officers carried the woman and the wheelchair down the stairs and out of the building to safety.

An investigation of the fire revealed that a tenant was attempting to repair his gas stove in his second floor apartment. As the tenant lit a cigarette, it generated the explosion. The force of the explosion was so great that it blew the tenant through the wall of his apartment and down two stories into the parking lot where he was found by other officers.

Officer Calixto Valdivia’s courage, bravery and heroic actions, in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire, embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding courage and persistent efforts, Officer Calixto is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Jesus Zaragoza

In the late morning hours of Friday, May 24, 2002, a massive explosion ripped through a multi-unit apartment complex in Encino. When Officer Jesus Zaragoza and his partner, and two other officers arrived at the rear of the complex, they saw flames engulfing the northern section of the three-story structure. Hundreds of local residents congregated in the area as tenants evacuated the building and milled about the area, shocked and with nowhere to go. So great was the devastation to the structure that the responding officers initially thought they were dealing with an act of terrorism.

Officer Zaragoza, his partner, and the other two officers began gathering panicked victims from the upper and lower parking garage areas and escorting them out of the building to safety. Officer Zaragoza and his partner then ran up the ramp leading to the upper parking lot and found most of the north side of the building had collapsed and was burning furiously. Officer Zaragoza and his partner discovered a surviving victim, laying dazed and badly burned in the parking lot within ten feet of the flaming building. The officers, realizing they could not carry the burned man without causing further injuries, began to talk him away from the building. Burning debris rained down on both the officers and the man. One large piece of burning debris struck Officer Zaragoza on the head, but undaunted, he continued to focus on talking the burn victim down the ramp where an off-duty medical doctor waited to give him immediate first aid.

As Officer Zaragoza was aiding other victims, his partner was rescuing a wheelchair bound woman trapped in a third-floor apartment. Managing to get her down to the second floor, he called down to Officer Zaragoza and two other officers who rushed into the building as secondary explosions hammered the structure. The four officers carried the disabled woman down the last two flights of stairs and out of the building to safety.

An investigation of the fire revealed that the rescued burn victim found in the parking lot was a tenant who was attempting to repair his gas stove in his second floor apartment. As the tenant lit a cigarette, it generated the explosion. The force of the explosion was so great that it blew the tenant through the wall of his apartment and down two stories into the parking lot where the officers found him.

Officer Jesus Zaragoza’s courage, bravery and heroic actions, in rescuing victims of an apartment building fire, embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his outstanding courage and persistent efforts, Officer Zaragoza is awarded the Medal of Valor.



Officer Fernando Zuniga

On the evening of December 17, 2000, Officer Fernando Zuniga and three other Metropolitan Division officers were flagged down by a citizen who informed them that an apartment building, located on Hollywood Boulevard, was on fire. The two-story building was occupied at the time, putting the residents in peril.

Arriving at the scene, Officer Zuniga and the other Metropolitan Division officers cleared the front area of spectators and received information that other people were still inside the building. Officer Zuniga and the other officers entered the burning building and immediately began directing residents out of the building. Officer Zuniga and the other officers systematically began knocking and kicking-in doors in order to determine which units were still occupied. As the smoke thickened, Officer Zuniga crawled down the hallway to the rear of the building where he directed trapped residents to safety.

All the officers, light-headed from breathing the heavy toxic fumes, would momentarily exit the building, clear their lungs and re-enter the structure to continue their search. When the toxic smoke and flames became unbearable, Officer Zuniga, being the squad leader, accounted for all the other officers and exited the structure.

Upon exiting, Officer Zuniga and other officers ran to the rear of the building where they observed a young boy hanging out of a second floor window. Officer Zuniga immediately ran underneath the window from where the boy was hanging. Although he was showered with glass and debris, Officer Zuniga stayed and assured the boy that he would be alright. Officer Zuniga and another officer then secured a ladder from the other side of the building. In the meantime, the Fire Department had arrived and assisted in the rescue of the boy.

Officer Zuniga and the other officers were put on oxygen by a responding paramedic unit and transported to a local hospital for symptoms of smoke inhalation.

Officer Fernando Zuniga’s courage and tenacity during a significant life-threatening situation was instrumental in saving the lives and preventing further injuries of the residents of the apartment complex. For his outstanding courage and persistent efforts, Officer Zuniga is awarded the Medal of Valor.

 
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