2013 ‘Top Cops’ honored in DC ceremony

For their heroic acts, they serve as models of inspiration and deserve much gratitude for their contributions to public safety


When a carjacked victim’s vehicle crashed following a police pursuit by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, the armed homicide suspect — who was shot by officers — continued to shoot. The terrified victim, with the help of two officers, was removed from danger.   

The frantic driver of a vehicle involved in the collision was near the shooter and was pulled out of the car by an officer while his colleagues maintained his cover. 

A police K-9 was enlisted to enable officers to handcuff the uncooperative and injured suspect.

The LEOs involved in the heroic acts that day were Sergeants Joel Miller and Joseph Sanchez, as well as Officers Hans Almaraz, Joseph Arevalo, Mark Austin, David Blake, Joseph Broussard, Juan Garcia Bradford Gorby, Ryan Nguyen, Clint Perez, and Sean Schneider. 

These were just a few of the officers honored by the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) at the 20th Annual ‘Top Cops’ awards ceremony in May 2013. 

Another was Detective John Saavedra — from the Miami-Dade County Police Department and a member of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) — was attempting to apprehend some drug dealers when he was shot Saavedra several times by an assailant who had been hiding in a darkened vehicle.

Saavedra fired at the gunman and hit him multiple times, but while Saavedra was down, he was ambushed by another man who punched and kicked him in the face. Saavedra was rescued by his colleagues, airlifted to a hospital, and he recovered from his wounds.

Officer Del Pearson of the Chicago Police Department ended up in a foot chase with a curfew violator following a conversation. Pearson was ambushed and shot twice in the chest.  His left arm was incapacitated, but he returned fire with his right arm.  Two officers came to his aid and took him to the hospital. He was released eight days later.

Senior Trooper Eric Nash of the Indiana State Police was recognized for his ability to keep cool under deadly fire and for his willingness to risk his life for a fellow officer. Nash attempted to end a deadly shootout in which Green County Sherriff’s Department Deputy James O’Malley was seriously injured from the suspect’s gunshot.  

Trooper Nash positioned his vehicle toward the house to tend to O’Malley’s wound at which time the suspect emitted another round of gun fire and hit another officer.  Nash maintained his position. After ten minutes of gun fire, the suspect was apprehended.

When two armed bank robbers traversed three counties and engaged in a fierce gun battle with cops, Senior Trooper Mark Domino, the top cop of the Iowa State Patrol, was in pursuit. Amid a hail of bullets, Domino was shot in the arm but kept going. While steering the vehicle with his injured right arm, he returned fire — leaning out of the cruiser with his left arm. His assistance was instrumental in the apprehension.

Members of Las Vegas area’s Criminal Apprehension Team (CAT) were commended for their heroic efforts in attempting to apprehend a suspected murderer who had used a machete in his crime.

Following their pinch formation, the suspect ran, shot at officers, and a gun battle ensued. Detective Greg Theobald was hit. The suspect was killed and colleagues aided in getting Theobald to the hospital. 

Detectives Eric Collins, Thomas Fuller, Richard Hart, Craig Lilienthal, Troy Radke, Greg Theobald, Linda Theobald, Sergeant David Stansbury of LVPD — alongside Detective  David Rowlett of the City of Henderson PD, and Special Agents Daniel Coxon, T. Scott Hendricks III, and Christopher D. McInnes of the FBI — a were honored.

Captain Mark McGrath of the Wayne (NJ) Police Department was recognized for saving his colleague’s life. McGrath rescued Officer Robert Franco after a tree fell onto his vehicle. Following a 14-hour shift, McGrath crawled under live wires in the narrow space between vehicles and carefully loosened Franco’s vest that was blocking his airway. 

For 45 minutes, he led a small team that removed the door and unloaded Franco.

When off-duty cop Ivan Marcano observed an elderly man being pistol whipped and went to assist, he was shot in the chest and fell to the ground. He stumbled into his girlfriend’s car. 

En route to the hospital, Marcano observed the criminals in a vehicle. He exited the car, clutching his chest, and shot at the suspects who crashed their car. Marcado, in foot pursuit, shot at them, and he took his assailant down. In 36 hours, his colleagues apprehended the other suspects. Detectives Ivan Marcano, Terrence Munnelly, and Steven Smith were the cops honored from the New York City Police Department.

When U.S. Marshall Designate Gary Blankinship, his wife, Police Officer Nicole Blankinship-Reeves, and children were dining in a Pasadena restaurant, a gunman entered. When Officer LaReau appeared, he ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. 

The suspect refused and raised his gun. Lareau shot him six times and secured the scene until Pasadena Police arrived.  These cops of the Houston Police Department are related family members. 

The top cops of the Oak Creek Police Department who responded to the Sikh Temple shooting are Lieutenant Brian Murphy and Officers Sam Lenda, John Finco, Julie Grauberger, Dean Kleinhans, Michael Shultz, Derick Slamka, and Kelly Romel. 

Lieutenant Murphy had been shot 17 times. Officer Lenda shot and wounded the suspect and saved Murphy from further attacks. The other officers aided other victims and got Murphy to a hospital. All these officers saved an untold number of lives.   

“These members of America’s finest have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep our nation safe,” NAPO President Thomas Nee said. 

For their heroic acts, they serve as models of inspiration and deserve much gratitude for their contributions to public safety.

About the author

Karen L. Bune serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, where she teaches victimology. Ms. Bune is a consultant for the Training and Technical Assistance Center for the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U. S. Department of Justice. She is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on victim issues. Ms. Bune is Board Certified in Traumatic Stress and Domestic Violence, and she is a Fellow of The Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and the National Center for Crisis Management. Ms. Bune serves on an Institutional Review Board of the Police Foundation in Washington, D. C. She is a 2009 inductee in the Wakefield High School (Arlington, Va.) Hall of Fame. She received the “Chief’s Award 2009” from the Prince George’s County Maryland Police Chief. She received a 2011 Recognition of Service Certificate from Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. She received a 2011 Official Citation from The Maryland General Assembly congratulating her for extraordinary public service on behalf of domestic violence victims in Prince George’s County and the cause of justice throughout Maryland. She received the 2011 American University Alumni Recognition Award. Ms. Bune appears in the 2014 editions of Marquis’ “Who’s Who in the World, and Marquis' Who’s Who of American Women.

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