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Chicago cop given department's highest honor for second time

8 1/2-year veteran honored for her bravery in 2012 shooting

By Jeremy Gorner
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — It wasn't the first time Chicago police Officer Jameka Sherrod had a gun pointed at her head.

Now the 8 1/2-year veteran has been honored for her bravery that day in 2012 with the department's highest honor for the second time in her career — the first time that has happened in the more than the half century that the Police Medal has been handed out, officials said.

"I was like, 'Oh wow.' I was really shocked because I thought they would only give the award one time," Sherrod said today after she and her partners, Officers Mark Pickert and Rodney Jones, were honored at the department's 53rd annual recognition ceremony downtown. "That's really an honor. I want to thank God for that."

Sherrod, Pickert and Jones also received the Superintendent's Award of Valor for their work. Sherrod earned her first Police Medal for a 2009 domestic incident in which she fatally shot a gunman who had pointed a weapon at her head.

"She's like a cat. She's got nine lives," Pickert quipped after Sherrod explained to reporters how she earned the first award.

The three officers, all assigned to the Gang Enforcement Unit, earned the latest honor after responding to a "man with a gun call" in February 2012 in the crime-plagued South Shore neighborhood.

The department then gave this account: The three chased after the suspect on foot before Sherrod caught up to him and tackled him near East 68th Street and South East End Avenue. In the struggle the gunman pulled out a weapon and aimed it at Sherrod's head.  Pickert joined in the struggle and was shot in the left hand. Jones then shot the gunman, who was taken into custody and survived.

"We were put in a horrendous situation," said Jones, an 11-year veteran of the department. "It was an atmosphere that was just unbelievable. (It) just so happened that we all worked together. We were able to neutralize the subject and save ourselves."

Pickert, a 10-year veteran who is on disability after suffering nerve damage to his wounded hand in the incident, said his wife had joked with him the day before the incident that officers just drive around, eat doughnuts and drink coffee while on duty.

"This is the only job in the world where it can go from ... zero to 'Oh no' within seconds and your life is on the line and you have to be able to think and react," Pickert said.

Copyright 2014 the Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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