Officer of the Month — November 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Sean Fleming of the Chesapeake (VA) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for November 2009.
For most working Americans, the worst battle on a ride home from work is traffic. For Officer Sean Fleming of the Chesapeake Police Department one day this summer, it was a gunman intent on taking out anyone in his path of escape.
On June 1, 2009, Officer Fleming carried out his shift in Chesapeake's 3rd Precinct much as he always did: patrolling the streets, making traffic stops and developing strategies to reduce robberies. At the end of his shift, he began the drive home still wearing his uniform but driving his personal vehicle. This would prove to be the last few "routine" moments of an otherwise normal day on the job.
Officer Fleming noticed two marked police vehicles operating their emergency equipment attempting to stop a fleeing white van. He pulled off the road to let the police vehicles pass and then turned on his portable police radio to hear what was happening. Officer Fleming soon learned that his fellow officers were in a felony pursuit and began to drive in the direction of the chase. Soon afterwards, the white van being pursued crashed into a guard rail, and three subjects exited the vehicle. As responding officers approached the van, the suspects began firing at them while fleeing into nearby woods.
With Officer Fleming approaching the scene, a lone individual exited a wood line along the roadway and immediately caught sight of the officer, who had pulled off down the road from the crashed van. Seeing Officer Fleming in his uniform, the suspect immediately leveled an AK-style assault rifle at him and opened fire. No less than twenty bullets hit Officer Fleming's Jeep Wrangler, and four of them found their intended target: Officer Fleming. Undeterred and with a tremendous will to survive, Officer Fleming immediately returned fire. With the help of a fellow officer, Officer Fleming was able to neutralize the gunman.
Shot four times, covered in blood, and struggling, Officer Fleming was able to exit his vehicle out of the passenger's side door and collapsed behind the vehicle. Fellow officers immediately left their cover to come to Officer Fleming's aid, risking their lives to save him not knowing if the other suspects were waiting at the wood line. While officers provided cover, Officer Fleming was pulled to safety behind police vehicles, where officers immediately began rendering first aid. The officers quickly assessed his wounds and began applying direct pressure, all the while maintaining a conversation with Officer Fleming and assuring him he would be all right. Officer Fleming was flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to undergo surgery and be treated for his wounds.
Lieutenant C.E. Horne of the Chesapeake Police Department writes, "Officer Fleming willingly responded to the aid of his fellow officers when he could have instead chosen to let on-duty officers handle the situation. Once confronted and out-gunned by an armed adversary, he never gave up. His will to live and react undoubtedly contributed to ending an immediate and deadly threat to other officers and civilians."
When asked just a month after the incident if he would return to his job with the department, Officer Fleming responded, "It'll take more than this to scare me away." With just one-and-a-half years in his law enforcement career, Officer Fleming has already compiled an impressive list of commendations. For his heroic efforts that fateful June day he was awarded the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Award for Valor, and from the Chesapeake Police Department, the Medal of Valor, Combat Cross and Wounded in Combat Medal. In addition, he was voted the Chesapeake Police Department's Officer of the Second Quarter by his peers. Officer Fleming has since returned to duty with the Police Department.
Located in the nation's capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Officer Fleming, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2009, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2010 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund's 2011 calendar.