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2000 Medal of Valor Recipients
 
 
There are 10 officers being awarded the Medal of Valor this year. Their citations are listed below.

Police Officer Ronald Chavarria
Police Officer Francisco Dominguez
Police Officer Robert Farias
Sergeant Joan Leuck
Police Officer Cynthia French
Police Officer Romik Keshishi
Police Officer Peter McCoy
Police Officer Lazaro Ramirez
Police Officer Manuel Solis
Police Officer Jason Thompson




Police Officer Ronald Chavarria

On December 31, 1997, Officer Ronald Chavarria and nine other officers assigned to Hollenbeck CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) Unit were working the New Year’s Eve Gunfire Suppression Detail when a 415-gang party was observed on New Jersey Street. This location had been a problem in the past as officers had made numerous probation and parole searches and many arrests at the residence. Officers observed approximately 60 gang members and a flag with their gang logo displayed at the residence. While officers were developing their plan of action, gunshots were heard coming from the location.

The plan involved dividing the squad into three teams, including an observation post; and two additional teams, enabling the officers to approach in two different directions to avoid crossfire and to seal off any avenues of escape. A tactical frequency allowing officers to communicate freely was also established.

Officer Chavarria was assigned with another officer to set up the observation post where they observed numerous gang members committing a variety of misdemeanor violations. These violations often are precursors to gang violence. Officer Chavarria and his partner were advised to return to the unit and the unit was instructed to respond to the location.

As Officer Chavarria and his partner approached the residence, they observed a 17 year-old male walking in their direction grasping at his waistband as if hiding a weapon. Both officers confronted the youth and ordered him to drop the weapon. The suspect refused and began running away from the officers. The officers pursued the suspect until a second suspect appeared and blocked the officer’s path. Officer Chavarria’s partner quickly took control of the second suspect while Officer Chavarria continued the pursuit. Two other officers witnessing the armed suspect, joined the pursuit. The pursuit ended at a staircase at the rear entrance of the residence when the suspect fired one round, striking one of the other officers. A struggle ensued as the two other officers tried to subdue the armed suspect. The suspect continued to fire his weapon, striking the wounded officer several more times. Officer Chavarria, with total disregard for his own safety, exposed himself to gunfire to assist the wounded officer. Observing the suspect attempt to fire his weapon again, Officer Chavarria fired one round, striking the suspect in the head and ending the vicious attack.

Officer Ronald Chavarria’s bravery, courage, tactics, and action under fire display the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. Officer Chavarria is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Robert Farias

On December 31, 1997, Officer Robert Farias and nine other officers assigned to the Hollenbeck CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) Unit were assigned to the New Year’s Eve Gunfire Suppression Detail when a 415-gang party was observed on New Jersey Street. This location had been a problem in the past as officers had made numerous probation and parole searches and many arrests at the residence. Officers observed approximately 60 gang members and a flag with their gang logo displayed at the residence. While officers were developing their plan of action, gunshots were heard.

The plan involved dividing the squad into three teams, including an observation post; and two additional teams, enabling the officers to approach in two different directions to avoid crossfire and to seal off any avenues of escape. A tactical frequency allowing officers to communicate freely was also established.

Officer Farias and his partner approached the residence and observed an armed suspect being chased by an officer from one of the other teams. Both Officer Farias and his partner joined the foot pursuit and ran to the rear of the residence. Officer Farias’ partner was directly behind the suspect as the suspect climbed the back staircase of the residence. The suspect turned and fired one round striking Officer Farias’ partner. Officer Farias, in defense of his partner and other arriving officers, fired one round back at the suspect. The suspect, unaffected by the round, continued to shoot at the wounded officer, striking him again with additional rounds. A struggle ensued as the two other officers tried to subdue the armed suspect. With both the wounded officer and the suspect on the ground involved in a struggle, the suspect again fired, hitting the wounded officer with several more rounds. Officer Farias moved into a position to straddle the suspect, controlling his fire to protect fellow officers and those attending the party. Officer Farias then fired three rounds at the suspect in an attempt to stop the confrontation. Another officer firing three rounds at the suspect, one striking the suspect in the head, ended the deadly attack.

Officer Robert Farias’ bravery, courage, and tactical ability while under attack embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. Officer Farias is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.




Sergeant Joan Leuck

On the afternoon of December 31, 1998, North Hollywood Area Sergeant Joan Leuck responded with other officers to investigate a radio call of a man with a gun causing a disturbance at a Studio City apartment complex. Two security guards and a tenant informed the officers of a man with a history of mental instability and under the influence of alcohol was in possession of at least two assault rifles. The officers searched the area and entered the suspect’s apartment, unable to locate the armed individual. They did observe several assault rifle cases and several hundred rounds of ammunition. Communications Division was notified of the suspect’s description and patrol units in the area were additionally notified.

Later that evening, a second call for service was received from the security guard at the complex, alerting officers that the suspect had returned to his apartment. Officers responded to assist the primary unit. Sergeant Leuck formulated a tactical plan allowing the other officers to safely deploy and contain the suspect should he refuse to cooperate.

Utilizing a cellular phone, Sergeant Leuck contacted the suspect and requested that he come down to the North Hollywood Police Station for questioning. The suspect refused to cooperate and hung up the phone. At that point, one of the other officers ordered the suspect out of the apartment. The suspect opened the door, stood motionless in the doorway, ignored all of the officers’ commands to exit, and then closed the apartment door. Officers near the suspect’s apartment could hear the sounds of ammunition being loaded into weapons and then heard the sound of one round being fired behind the suspect’s closed door. The suspect then opened the door and exited the apartment to confront officers. Realizing the suspect’s superior firepower, Sergeant Leuck direct the officers to redeploy. The suspect then discharged numerous rounds at the officers.

Focusing her attention on a stairway landing, Sergeant Leuck anticipated the suspect’s advance on her position as he continued firing at officers. Sergeant Leuck then observed the suspect’s assault rifle barrel extend beyond the corner of the building. Sergeant Leuck and another officer engaged the suspect in a gun battle that resulted in the other officer being wounded by the suspect’s gunfire. As the suspect reentered his apartment, Sergeant Leuck gained a position of advantage in the building’s underground garage. The suspect again exited the building engaging in gunfire with another officer who joined Sergeant Leuck in the garage area. Both officers watched in astonishment as the suspect entered the garage to hunt them down. Fearing for their safety and the safety of the other officers on the scene, Sergeant Leuck and the other officer again engaged the suspect in gun battle. Relying on their training and tactics, they stood their ground until the suspect was struck by their gunfire and mortally wounded.

Sergeant Joan Leuck is commended for her bravery and strength of mind and spirit in serving the people of this City. In the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department, she is awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Cynthia French

On the afternoon of December 31, 1998, North Hollywood Area Officer Cynthia French and her partner responded with other officers to investigate a radio call of a man with a gun causing a disturbance at a Studio City apartment complex. Two security guards and a tenant informed the officers of a man with a history of mental instability and under the influence of alcohol was in possession of at least two assault rifles. The officers searched the area and entered the suspect’s apartment, unable to locate the armed individual. They did observe several assault rifle cases and several hundred rounds of ammunition. Communications Division was notified of the suspect’s description and patrol units in the area were additionally notified.

Later that evening, a second call for service was received from the security guard at the complex, alerting officers that the suspect had returned to his apartment. Officers responded to assist and a tactical plan was formulated allowing the other officers to safely deploy and contain the suspect should he refuse to cooperate.

Utilizing a cellular phone, the suspect was contacted and requested to come down to the North Hollywood Police Station for questioning. The suspect refused to cooperate and hung up the phone. At that point, officers including Officer French, ordered the suspect out of the apartment. The suspect opened the door, stood motionless in the doorway, ignored all of the officers’ commands to exit, and then closed the apartment door. Officers near the suspect’s apartment could hear the sounds of ammunition being loaded into weapons and then heard the sound of one round being fired behind the suspect’s closed door. The suspect then opened the door and exited the apartment to confront officers. Realizing the suspect’s superior firepower, the officers were directed to redeploy as Officer French provided cover. The suspect then discharged numerous rounds at the officers.

Officer French, observing the suspect walking toward her, ordered him to put the gun down. Ignoring the command the suspect continued to advance on Officer French. Fearing for her safety and the safety of the community, she engaged the suspect in gun battle. Facing overwhelming firepower, Officer French was forced to redeploy near the entrance of the apartment building. Hearing the sound of the suspect’s weapon and observing bullets traveling through exterior walls in the direction of other officers, Officer French again engaged the suspect in gun battle, receiving a wound herself in her left arm and left torso. Undaunted by her severe wounds, Officer French in a standing position, faced the suspect and fired again, receiving another wound to her right hand causing her to drop her weapon. Critically wound, she sought cover and was carried to safety by other officers.

Officer Cynthia French is commended for her bravery and strength of mind and spirit in facing an armed suspect during his horrifying assault. In the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer French is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Romik Keshishi

On the afternoon of December 31, 1998, North Hollywood Area Officer Romik Keshishi and his partner responded with other officers to investigate a radio call of a man with a gun causing a disturbance at a Studio City apartment complex. Two security guards and a tenant informed the officers of a man with a history of mental instability and under the influence of alcohol was in possession of at least two assault rifles. The officers searched the area and entered the suspect’s apartment, unable to locate the armed individual. They did observe several assault rifle cases and several hundred rounds of ammunition. Communications Division was notified of the suspect’s description and patrol units in the area were additionally notified.

Later that evening, a second call for service was received from the security guard at the complex, alerting officers that the suspect had returned to his apartment. Officers responded to assist and a tactical plan was formulated allowing the other officers to safely deploy and contain the suspect should he refuse to cooperate.

Utilizing a cellular phone, the suspect was contacted and requested to come down to the North Hollywood Police Station for questioning. The suspect refused to cooperate and hung up the phone. At that point, officers ordered the suspect out of the apartment. The suspect opened the door, stood motionless in the doorway, ignored all of the officers’ commands to exit, and then closed the apartment door. Officers near the suspect’s apartment could hear the sounds of ammunition being loaded into weapons and then heard the sound of one round being fired behind the suspect’s closed door. The suspect then opened the door and exited the apartment to confront officers. Realizing the suspect’s superior firepower, the officers were directed to redeploy. The suspect then discharged numerous rounds at the officers.

After several gun battles and one officer receiving three gunshot wounds from the suspect reentered his apartment. As the suspect exited the apartment he observed Officer Keshishi and fired a "hail of bullets" at the officer. Fearing for his safety, Officer Keshishi redeployed to the apartment garage area with another officer. Both officers watched in astonishment as the suspect entered the garage to hunt them down. Fearing for their safety and the safety of the other officers on the scene, Officer Keshishi and the other officer again engaged the suspect in gun battle. Relying on their training and tactics, they stood their ground until the suspect was struck by their gunfire and mortally wounded.

Officer Romik Keshishi is commended for his bravery and strength of mind and spirit in facing an armed suspect during his horrifying assault. In the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Keshishi is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Manuel Solis

On January 15, 1998, and "all units" radio call was broadcast to Foothill Area units regarding a "violent male mental" who was armed and threatening to kill his wife and children. Officer Manuel Solis and his partner were the first to arrive at the scene and immediately began to formulate a plan of action. Three other officers arrived and assisted in evacuating other residents who might be in the line of fire. Officers were also able to contact the suspect’s wife, determining that she and the children were not in the residence and also verified that the suspect had access to several weapons.

Officer Solis and his partner approached the residence and made several attempts to contact the suspect. After observing the suspect peeking through a front window, the officers retreated to a position of advantage. Officer Solis and his partner then observed the suspect outside the residence, armed with an assault rifle. Officer Solis ordered the suspect to put down his weapon. The suspect instead proceeded toward the officers, shouldered his assault rifle and began firing, wounding Officer Solis. Although wounded, Officer Solis was able to return fire, and the suspect continued firing until Officer Solis’ partner was struck in the hip, incapacitating him. The suspect retreated back into the residence but was observed at the front window pointing his weapon at both wounded officers.

Officer Solis went to the aid of his partner, attempting to pull him to a safe location. Another responding officer, observing the suspect at the front window and aiming his assault weapon at the two officers, fired 15 rounds at the center of the window. The other officer, while assisting Officer Solis in rescuing his partner, continued to fire additional rounds at the suspect. Officer Solis and the other responding officer were able to pull Officer Solis’ partner to a safe location where he was treated for his wounds. The suspect then exited the residence and surrendered.

Officer Manuel Solis’ bravery and heroic actions during this highly stressful incident helped safe the life of his partner and embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. Officer Solis is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Lazaro Ramirez

On January 15, 1998, and "all units" radio call was broadcast to Foothill Area units regarding a "violent male mental" who was armed and threatening to kill his wife and children. Officer Lazaro Ramirez and his partner arrived at the scene and immediately began to formulate a plan of action with three other responding officers. All officers assisted in evacuating other residents who might be in the line of fire. Officer Ramirez and the other officers were also able to contact the suspect’s wife, determining that she and the children were not in the residence and also verified that the suspect had access to several weapons.

Two of the officers approached the residence and made several attempts to contact the suspect. After observing the suspect peeking through a front window, the officers retreated to a position of advantage. The officers then observed the suspect outside the residence, armed with an assault rifle. The suspect proceeded toward the officers, shouldered his assault rifle and began firing, wounding both officers. Although wounded, one officer was able to return fire, and the suspect continued firing until the other officer was struck in the hip, incapacitating him. The suspect retreated back into the residence but was observed at the front window pointing his weapon at both wounded officers.

The one officer went to the aid of his incapacitated partner, attempting to pull him to a safe location. Officer Ramirez, observing the suspect at the front window and aiming his assault weapon at the two officers, fired 15 rounds at the center of the window. Officer Ramirez ran to the assist with the incapacitated officer and continued to fire additional rounds at the suspect. Officer Ramirez and the other responding officer were able to pull the incapacitated officer to a safe location where he was treated for his wounds. The suspect then exited the residence and surrendered.

Officer Lazaro Ramirez’ tenacity and bravery embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For his heroic efforts in helping save the life of a fellow officer, Officer Ramirez is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Francisco Dominguez

On the evening of November 29, 1998, Officer Francisco Dominguez was on patrol in Pacific Area with his partner, when they heard gun fire and witnessed a suspect carrying an assault rifle running toward a waiting vehicle with another suspect behind the wheel. With his training officer initiating pursuit, Officer Dominguez advised Communications Division of the events.

A secondary unit joined the pursuit with Officer Dominguez and his partner as the suspects proceeded into Culver City. Losing control of their vehicle, the suspects ended the pursuit with the suspect driver fleeing on foot. As the suspects’ vehicle began to roll backward, the armed suspect, still seated in the vehicle, opened fire with the assault rifle on the officers. Officer Dominguez and his partner dove for cover as their patrol vehicle was sprayed with numerous rounds of gunfire. Officer Dominguez returned fire as the suspect vehicle approached and passed his open door.

The other pursuing officers observed Officer Dominguez and his partner under extreme fire. On foot they returned fire as they approached the suspect’s vehicle. After an intense gun battle, the suspect was taken into custody. Officer Dominguez, from the floorboards of the passenger seat and under extreme fire, persevered and returned accurate fire until the suspect stopped his deadly assault.

Officer Francisco Dominguez is commended for his uncommon bravery, presence of mind and commitment to his partner and his profession. In the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Dominguez is awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Peter McCoy

On the evening of November 29, 1998, Officer Peter McCoy was on patrol in Pacific Area with his partner when they responded to a request for backup from a patrol unit pursuing a fleeing suspect armed with an assault rifle. Joining the pursuit as the secondary unit, Officer McCoy and his partner followed the primary unit and the suspects’ vehicle as it made its way into Culver City.

Losing control of their vehicle, the suspects ended the pursuit with the driver fleeing on foot. As the suspects’ vehicle began to roll backward, the armed suspect, still seated in the vehicle, opened fire with the assault rifle on the officers in the primary unit, spraying their vehicle with automatic gunfire.

Observing his fellow officers’ situation, Officer McCoy proceeded toward the suspects’ vehicle on foot, exposing himself to gunfire and returning fire himself. As the suspects’ vehicle continued to roll backwards, it exposed Officer McCoy’s cover, yet he continued adjusting his position and returning fire until the suspect deadly assault ceased. Officer McCoy then moved in and took the armed suspect into custody.

With Culver City officers securing the location and taking custody of the armed suspect, Officer McCoy and his partner rescued the two officers in the primary unit, one of the officers was critically injured.

Officer Peter McCoy, without regard for his own safety, faced automatic weapon fire and came to the aid of fellow officers. He is commended for outstanding bravery, presence of mind and selflessness. Officer McCoy is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.




Police Officer Jason Thompson

On the evening of November 29, 1998, Officer Jason Thompson was on patrol in Pacific Area with his partner when they responded to a request for backup from a patrol unit pursuing a fleeing suspect armed with an assault rifle. Joining the pursuit as the secondary unit, Officer Thompson and his partner followed the primary unit and the suspects’ vehicle as it made its way into Culver City.

Losing control of their vehicle, the suspects ended the pursuit with the driver fleeing on foot. As the suspects’ vehicle began to roll backward, the armed suspect, still seated in the vehicle, opened fire with the assault rifle on the officers in the primary unit, spraying their vehicle with automatic gunfire.

Observing his fellow officers’ situation, Officer Thompson proceeded toward the suspects’ vehicle on foot, exposing himself to gunfire and returning fire himself. As the suspects’ vehicle continued to roll backwards, Officer Thompson adjusted his position and continued to return fire. The armed suspect subjected Officer Thompson and his partner to intense gunfire yet Officer Thompson was able to maintain a clear line of fire. Officer Thompson’s partner was finally able to take the armed suspect into custody.

With Culver City officers securing the location and taking custody of the armed suspect, Officer Thompson and his partner rescued the two officers in the primary unit, one of the officers was critically injured.

Officer Jason Thompson, without regard for his own safety, faced automatic weapon fire and came to the aid of fellow officers. He is commended for outstanding bravery, presence of mind and selflessness. Officer Thompson is hereby awarded the Medal of Valor.

 
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