WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – President Obama awarded 13 public safety officers with a Medal of Valor on Monday.
“To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard for their own safety,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House.
Obama called on Americans to thank law enforcement officers for their work, and thanked the families present, for the burden they carry.
“We know that you wait up late and you’re worried and you’re counting down minutes until your loved one walks through the door safe after a long shift,” Obama said. “We know it never gets easier, and we thank you for that.”
One officer was given the award posthumously.
Constance Wilson accepted the award the Medal of Valor on behalf of her grandson, Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Wilson III. He was buying his son a gift at a video game store when two armed men entered the store. Security footage showed Wilson protecting the customers and staff from the shootout that ensued.
Wilson was shot in head.
“As one of today’s honorees said about his actions, ‘I could have very well gone my whole career and not dealt with this situation and been very happy with that,'” Obama said. “If they had their way, none of them would have to be here, and so we’re grateful that they are and our entire nation expresses its profound gratitude.”
Below is a list of the public safety officers and the description the White House provided of their actions:
Officer Mario Gutierrez
The Medal of Valor was presented to Officer Mario Gutierrez, Miami-Dade Police Department, Florida, for bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack. Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.
Patrolman Louis Cioci
The Medal of Valor was presented to Patrolmen Louis Ciochi, Johnson City Police Department, New York, for courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman. After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioci pursued and apprehended the gunman at a crowded hospital, thereby saving the lives of employees, patients, and visitors.
Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield
The Medal of Valor was presented to Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield, Santa Monica Police Department, California, for courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage. Officer Salas, Officer Sparks, and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College.
Major David Huff
The Medal of Valor was presented to Major David Huff, Midwest City Police Department, Oklahoma, for uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation. Major Huff saved the life of a two-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knifepoint.
Officer Donald Thompson
The Medal of Valor was presented to Officer Donald Thompson, Los Angeles Police Department, California, for courageous action to save an accident victim. While off duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.
Officer Coral Walker
The Medal of Valor was presented to Officer Coral Walker, Omaha Police Department, Nebraska, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter. After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker singlehandedly incapacitated a man who had killed an injured multiple victims on a shooting spree.
Officer Gregory Stevens
The Medal of Valor was presented to Officer Gregory Stevens, Garland Police Department, Texas, for demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives. Officer Stevens exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued two heavily armed assailants, preventing a deadly act of terrorism.
Mrs. Constance Wilson, accepting on behalf of Sgt. Robert Wilson III
The Medal of Valor was presented to fallen Sgt. Robert Wilson, III, Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania, for giving his life to protect innocent civilians. Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm’s way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from the assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.
Officer Niel Johnson
The Medal of Valor was presented to Officer Niel Johnson, North Miami Police Department, Florida, for swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree. Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon and apprehended the assailant.
Special Agent Tyler Call
The Medal of Valor was presented to Special Agent Tyler Call, Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his heroic actions to save a hostage. Special Agent Cull, who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband, who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.
Deputy Joey Tortorella
The Medal of Valor was presented to Deputy Joey Tortorella, Niagara County, Sheriff’s Office, New York, for placing himself in grave danger to protect his community. Deputy Tortorella confronted and subdued a violent gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home, and by doing so, prevented the gunmen from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.