2017 Medal of Valor Recipients

2017 Recipients of the Distinguished Medal of Valor, Purple Heart & Preservation of Life Awards


Los Angeles Police Department Officer Garrett Brooks
Los Angeles Police Department Officer John Carlyle
Los Angeles Police Department Officer Oscar Cordoba
Los Angeles Police Department Officer Henry Merin
Los Angeles Police Department Officer Edwin Rocha
Los Angeles Police Department Officer Bryan Waggener
Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant Jesus Garcia
Los Angeles Police Department Rodolfo Ledesma
Los Angeles Police Department Ramon Lomeli
Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant Joseph Morrison
Los Angeles Police Department Wayne J. Garber
Los Angeles Police Department Gabe Ahedo
Los Angeles Police Department Grant Hansen
Los Angeles Police Department Brent Lamoureux
Los Angeles Police Department Mark Pooler
Los Angeles Police Department Michael Alcantar
Los Angeles Police Department Stephen Buehler
Los Angeles Police Department Derek Leiphardt
Los Angeles Police Department Juan Sierra
Los Angeles Police Department Jesus Arreguin
Los Angeles Police Department Mannie Price
Los Angeles Police Department Michael Burtner
Los Angeles Police Department Saul Lopez
Los Angeles Police Department Heather Monroe
Los Angeles Police Department Joel Trask
Los Angeles Police Department Erik Helmstetter
Los Angeles Police Department Daisy Vanegas

Officer Garrett Brooks

Officer John Carlyle

On the evening of March 28, 2016, Southwest Division Officers Garrett Brooks and John Carlyle had just started their watch and were leaving the station to begin patrolling when they heard a loud explosion. They saw a plume of smoke coming from a nearby intersection and quickly drove over, where they saw that a five car collision had taken place. A Mercedes Benz had struck an MTA bus, rendering both vehicles immobile and causing the Mercedes to catch fire with both the driver and passenger still buckled inside and incapacitated by the impact.

Without regard for their own safety, both officers rushed in to remove the occupants of the Mercedes. Brooks radioed for help, while Carlyle assessed the situation and directed Brooks to remove the driver while he went to get the passenger. Carlyle opened the door behind the passenger and tried to remove her from the car, but she was still belted in her seat. He smashed open the window with the handle of his knife. He cut the seatbelt, but both of her legs were pinned by the dashboard. By this time, smoke and fire started to come through the firewall of the Mercedes and began to engulf the front passenger compartment. Carlyle ripped away part of the dashboard to free her legs. She was successfully freed from her seat and carried away from the fire with the help of an unknown citizen.

Meanwhile, Brooks was attempting to remove the driver who still had his seatbelt on, was unable to move on his own, and whose legs had become engulfed by the fire and were burning. A citizen at the scene used Brooks’ knife to cut the seatbelt so that Brooks could pull the driver out from the window. They then carried the driver away from the fire.

At this point, the bus caught fire and the natural gas tanks on top of the bus became engulfed in flames and exploded. The officers used their bodies to shield both occupants from the blast and debris. Carlyle then moved the black and white to use as a shield against the fire and further explosions. The officers carried the driver and the passenger behind the car, comforted them, and stayed with them until LAFD arrived and relieved them. Both officers suffered mild smoke inhalation, abrasions, and lacerations, but their heroic actions saved the occupants’ lives.


Oscar Cordoba

Henry Merin

Edwin Rocha

Bryan Waggener

On the morning of August 20, 2013, a woman was watering her front lawn when her estranged husband arrived and asked to come in for a cup of coffee. When she refused, he pulled out a .25 caliber pistol and shot her in the right side of the head, grazing her head and penetrating her ear. She immediately grabbed her head and bent down screaming when he fired several more rounds at her. Fearing for her life, she ran down the driveway to the detached rear residence where her son lived and shouted, “Help! Help! I’ve been shot!” Her son let her in, closed the door, and called 9-1-1.

The suspect went to his car, reloaded his gun, and began walking to the rear residence. While the son was still on the phone with 9-1-1, the suspect fired a round into the house.

Communications Division broadcasted that a shooting had just occurred, and Southwest Officers Henry Merin and Edwin Rocha went to respond, as did Officers Oscar Cordoba and Bryan Waggener.

As Cordoba and Waggener arrived, a neighbor flagged them down to tell them someone was shooting in the rear yard. Merin and Rocha soon arrived, and the four officers formed up and tactically moved down the driveway toward the backyard. The officers could see the suspect over the fence holding a small semi-automatic pistol and yelled, “Drop the gun!” numerous times. The suspect ignored the officers and turned toward the house, firing one round into the window.

The officers could hear screaming coming from inside and, again, ordered the suspect to drop the gun. Instead, he turned towards them with his pistol pointed at them. In immediate defense of their lives, Rocha fired several round from his shotgun and Cordoba and Merin fired several rounds from their handguns. The suspect fell to the ground with his pistol still in hand. He looked over his shoulder at the officers, rolled toward his side, raised his arm, and pointed the pistol at them. Cordoba and Waggener fired their weapons, and he dropped the gun and rolled on his stomach. Officers were then able to handcuff him and recover the weapon.

As a testament to just how frantic the situation was, video and audio evidence from the scene revealed that only 49 seconds elapsed from the time the officers arrived on scene to the conclusion of the officer involved shooting.

Sergeant Jesus Garcia

On the night of June 15, 2016, Central Traffic Division Sergeant Jesus Garcia and another officer heard a traffic collision occur about a block from their location. As the officers looked toward the direction of the accident, they saw that the motorcycle involved had burst into flames.

Garcia broadcast the incident to nearby units and quickly drove to assist the people involved. When he arrived on scene, both the motorcycle and the motorcyclist were lying in the street fully engulfed in flames that reached approximately 20 feet in height.

Garcia ran toward the motorcyclist in an attempt to pull him away from the fiery wreckage, but it was too difficult because of the intensity of the flames. Fully aware of the danger he was facing, he ran towards the burning wreckage, grabbed hold of the motorcyclist’s legs, and pulled him to safety. In doing so, Garcia sustained first degree burns to his hands and face.

Garcia and other officers who arrived on the scene removed the motorcyclist’s smoldering clothing and backpack, cleared his airway, and assisted him with his breathing until LAFD arrived.

Rodolfo Ledesma

Ramon Lomeli

In the early morning hours of September 8, 2015, 77th Street Division Officers Rodolfo Ledesma and Ramon Lomeli responded to an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Domestic Violence call. The person reporting requested officers because her husband had threatened to kill her and had written a suicide letter. The officers were given a description of the suspect and his vehicle and were told that he owned a gun, but it was unknown if he was armed.

As the officers continued to the scene, they received updates from Communications Division letting them know that the suspect was in his car, had a mental illness, and that his revolver could not be located inside the residence. When they arrived, they saw the suspect’s car and illuminated it using their exterior spotlights but did not see anyone inside.

They exited their vehicle and heard arguing coming from the front porch of the residence. As they tactically deployed on the location and made their approach, they heard multiple gunshots coming from the porch and saw muzzle flash. The gunshots were directed toward the front door – the suspect was in the process of shooting his wife.

While Lomeli ran toward the front hood of the suspect’s car for cover, he heard additional gunshots and saw muzzle flashes coming from the suspect, who was still standing on the porch.

Simultaneously, Ledesma took cover, heard the suspect scream loudly, and raise his right arm toward him and his partner. Still armed with a handgun, the suspect turned his attention toward the officers.

To save the life of the victim, as well as their own, both officers fired their weapons. They stopped firing when the suspect went down to the ground; however, they were unable to determine if he had been struck.

Ledesma broadcasted an “Officer needs help/shots fired” call and indicated the direction he wanted officers to approach in order to ensure their safety as they arrived. Lomeli broadcasted that the suspect was down and that an additional victim was possibly injured inside the residence. As backup arrived, a tactical plan was formulated to safely approach the suspect and rescue the female.

The arrest team contacted the suspect and observed a gun lying next to him. As he was being taken into custody, the recue team extracted the female, who had been shot. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sergeant Joseph Morrison

On the evening of March 19, 2013, Pacific Division patrol officers received a radio call from a man who said that a male suspect was inside his mother’s apartment threatening to kill her and refusing to open the door. Based on an earlier call at the same location, officers believed the suspect was probably the same person that committed an Assault with a Deadly Weapon in front of the location.

The responding officers arrived on scene and found the suspect had locked the door, barricaded it with furniture, and was now threatening to set fire to the apartment and kill the woman. Because of the barricaded door, they could not force their way into the apartment, so they contacted Sergeant Joseph Morrison and requested a battering ram.

While waiting for Morrison to arrive, the officers could hear the hostage repeatedly pleading with the suspect to turn off the gas. Within seconds of hearing these pleas, they saw a fire erupt in the front living room. Some officers kicked the doors and struck the windows with their batons, but the doors would not open and the batons only poked holes in the windows due to a tinting film on them. Other officers used a garden house and a fire extinguisher but were unable to put the fire out from the outside.

When Morrison arrived with the battering ram, the living room was fully engulfed by the fire. He was warned that the suspect was inside and armed with a knife. After several strikes with the battering ram, he broke the front door from the hinges but was blocked by a large amount of furniture, as well as dense, dark smoke. He pulled the items from the doorway and cleared a path, but the smoke prevented him from seeing inside.

Fearing the hostage would be killed either by the suspect or from the fire, Morrison entered the residence. He was soon overcome by the smoke and flames and was forced to retreat. After catching his breath, he tried several more times to go deeper into the living room to rescue the hostage but was forced out each time by the smoke, heat, and flames.

Believing at any moment that the hostage would be overcome by the fire and smoke, Morrison took an extreme tactical disadvantage and laid on the floor in order to crawl into the apartment. Unable to see and breathing in toxic smoke, he was navigating his way through the apartment when he encountered the suspect crawling on the floor. He grabbed the suspect’s hands to pull him outside, but the suspect yanked free and said, “We are all going to die. I want us to die.” On the verge of losing consciousness, Morrison grabbed the suspect, picked him off the floor as he continued to struggle, and pulled him out of the apartment. Surrounding officers took the suspect into custody and were able to break the window of a rear bedroom and pull the victim to safety.

Sergeant Morrison was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he was treated for loss of consciousness, extreme smoke inhalation, and singed nasal passages.

Wayne J. Garber

On March 21, 1981, Van Nuys Division Officer Wayne Garber observed a vehicle weaving back and forth, initiated a traffic stop, and ordered the driver out of the vehicle. The driver exited the car and became very belligerent, so Garber ordered the driver to the sidewalk in an effort to conduct a sobriety test.

The suspect ignored his commands and walked back to his car, removing something from his person and handing it to the passenger. Believing the situation might escalate, Garber requested backup. The passenger then slid across the seat to the driver’s side and started the engine, so Garber quickly reached into the car, turned off the ignition, and grabbed the keys.

Thinking the suspect was a threat, Garber drew his weapon and commanded him to turn around and place his hands behind his back before holstering his weapon and approaching him. Before the suspect had both wrists cuffed, he spun around and hit the officer in the nose with a loose cuff, leaving him dazed. As Garber fell to the ground, he was unaware that his service pistol had dislodged from its holster and fallen into the street. The suspect then jumped on top of the officer and began punching him in the face.

As Garber struggled to stop the horrific attack, two construction workers drove by and saw what was happening. They pulled over and came to the officer’s aid, threatening the suspect with a pipe and sledge hammer if he did not stop his attack. The suspect complied, the men completed handcuffing him, and held him until additional units arrived.

Officer Garber suffered a broken nose, a fractured jaw, and a lower back injury from this attack. He returned to duty six months later but eventually received a medical pension due to continued problems resulting from the attack.

Gabe Ahedo

Grant Hansen

Brent Lamoureux

Mark Pooler

On the afternoon of June 18, 2015, North Hollywood Division Officers Grant Hansen and Brent Lamoureux responded to a radio call of a man assaulting a woman. When the officers arrived on scene, they saw what they believed were the suspect and victim walking on the sidewalk with the suspect’s arm around the victim, as if he was keeping her from moving away.

The officers attempted to have the suspect stop when he suddenly wrapped his arm around the victim’s neck in a chokehold-style grip, spun her around, and used her as a shield. The officers requested back-up and continued to speak to the suspect in an attempt to deescalate the situation. The suspect retreated up a driveway as far as he could. Not knowing if he was armed and only able to see one of his hands, the officers, again, requested help and reported that this was now a possible hostage situation.

As Hansen and Lamoureux waited, the victim looked like she was near the point of losing consciousness. The officers only had TASERs available as a less lethal option, so they drew their duty weapons while demanding the suspect let the victim go.

Officers Gabe Ahedo and Mark Pooler responded to the help call, and Pooler fired three rounds from a less lethal shotgun. Finally, the suspect’s grasp on the victim was broken. Lamoureux bear hugged the suspect so he could not grab the victim again, while Hansen helped take him to the ground and Ahedo handcuffed him.

Michael Alcantar

Stephen Buehler

Derek Leiphardt

Juan Sierra

On the morning on May 14, 2016, Van Nuys Division Officers Miguel Alcantar and Stephen Buehler received a call about a male in Mission Division who was a possible gang member that might be under the influence of narcotics and/or suffering from a mental illness. They were told the suspect was armed with a pipe and a rock and was breaking the windows of multiple vehicles.

When the officers arrived at the location and contacted the suspect, they observed he was armed with a three-foot metal pipe in one hand and an open knife in the other. He raised both arms and screamed at the officers to shoot or kill him and began to approach them. Knowing that the suspect could hurt or kill either one of them, they used available cover to give themselves time to assess their force options instead of immediately closing the distance and engaging the suspect.

The suspect retreated a bit before swinging the pipe in the air, hitting it on the ground, and yelling at the officers to come get him and shoot him. He then pressed his knife to his neck and yelled, “Kill me!” At this time, Officers Derek Leiphardt and Juan Sierra arrived at the scene, and the suspect ran in their direction screaming, “Come kill me. Kill me now.”

All four officers took cover as the suspect put the knife on the ground and picked up a softball-sized rock. Fearing that he might throw the rock and strike them, Sierra warned that he was going to shoot him with a beanbag if he did not drop his weapons. The suspect failed to comply and continued to threaten the officers before Sierra fired two less than lethal bean bag rounds, allowing the officers to take him into custody. As a result of the officers’ decisions, the suspect only sustained minor injuries related to the beanbag rounds.

Jesus Arreguin

Mannie Price

On the morning of April 6, 2016, South Traffic Division Officers Jesus Arreguin and Mannie Price were assigned to a radio call of a traffic collision. When they arrived at the scene, the officers saw that two cars had collided. Arreguin obtained the statement of the victim and his family, while Price interviewed the suspect.

As the officers were waiting for the tow truck to arrive, the suspect, who had not previously demonstrated any frustration or hostility, suddenly and without warning pulled a knife and thrust it in a downward motion into the back of the victim’s head. Price immediately drew his weapon, pointed it at the suspect, and ordered him to get back, as the victim’s family gathered around him to help him. Fearing the suspect would attack again, Price ordered the suspect to drop the knife and get down on the ground while Arreguin provided cover.

The suspect eventually complied and was arrested for attempted murder.

Michael Burtner

Saul Lopez

Heather Monroe

Joel Trask

Shortly before 1:00 p.m. on January 7, 2016, Metropolitan Officers Michael Burtner and Saul Lopez were assigned to a crime suppression detail in Devonshire Division when they observed a male crossing the street against a “Don’t Walk” sign. As the officers approached the suspect in their car, he looked at them and walked back across the street, committing a jaywalking violation.

The officers got out of their vehicle and told the suspect to stop as they walked to catch up with him. He ignored their instructions and walked away, concealing a metallic looking object in his hand. Lopez radioed that he was following a man with a gun and requested back-up. The officers then drew their guns in anticipation of the incident escalating to deadly force. As the suspect continued walking, he pulled out a large knife, raised his fist, and yelled at the officers, “F&*k you! You’re gonna have to shoot me.”

By now, the suspect was near a crowded restaurant and parking lot. Using parked vehicles for cover and aware of restaurant windows in the background if they fired their weapons, the officers continued following him and ordered him to stop and drop the knife. He neared the front door of the restaurant and picked up a large rock and threatened to throw it at the officers before dropping it and lunging toward Lopez with the knife. Lopez stepped back to create more distance between himself and the suspect.

At this point, they could all hear the sound of a siren quickly approaching, and the suspect took off running. Devonshire Division Officers Heather Monroe and Joel Trask engaged in a foot pursuit, while the suspect, knife in hand, tried to climb a wall into a residential area. They ordered him to drop the knife, and he responded, “Kill me. Kill me. You’re going to have to kill me.”

Monroe broadcasted her position to an airship and other responding units, as all four officers continued with the foot pursuit. While Trask maintained lethal cover, Monroe fired her TASER at the suspect, striking him and causing him to drop his knife. Monroe and Burtner handcuffed him without further incident.

During a subsequent interview, the suspect admitted his intention was to commit suicide by having the officers shoot him. He was booked for Assault with a Deadly Weapon on Police Officers.

Erik Helmstetter

Daisy Vanegas

On the evening of July 14, 2016, Hollywood Division Officers Erik Helmstetter and Daisy Vanegas received a radio call of an “attack just occurred” on a woman by a male suspect carrying a skateboard and a backpack. The officers drove to the vicinity of where the call came from and were told by a witness that the suspect had fled.

The officers saw a person who matched the suspect’s description, approached him, and ordered him to stop and turn around. He ignored the officers’ orders and walked away before turning back towards them while tilting his skateboard forward as if he was going to throw it at them. The officers quickly realized the suspect intended to fight them and warned that they would use a TASER on him. He, again, raised the skateboard and acted like he was going to use it as a weapon, so both officers deployed their TASERs. Even though the TASER darts made contact with the suspect, they were ineffective and he ran away from the officers who began to chase him.

During the foot pursuit, the officers saw the suspect grab a 4-year-old boy from behind and use him as a hostage. The suspect placed the boy in a chokehold and clamped the boy’s throat, strangling him. The boy’s eyes rolled back, he turned pale, and began bleeding from the mouth. Believing that the boy’s life was in imminent danger, the officers initiated a team take down. The suspect fell on his back but did not release the boy’s throat. Not wanting to injure the child with a TASER, baton, or gun, Helmstetter decided to strike the suspect’s face with a closed hammer fist to distract him while Vanegas kneed him in the lower torso area. Both officers grabbed and spread the suspect’s arms apart to release the chokehold on the boy. The suspect was then taken into custody.