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Eight Virginia Officers Receive VACP/VPCF Awards for Valor

August 22, 2008 | VACP

News Image Special Recognition Given to Chesapeake Police K-9 "Axel"

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police on August 19, 2008 presented eight Virginia police officers from five agencies with the Association’s highest honor, the Award for Valor. The awards are presented at the Valor Awards Banquet at the annual conference of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, held this year in Hot Springs, Virginia. The awards program is a joint effort of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation.

The Award for Valor recognizes a law enforcement officer who, in the line of duty, performs an act of extraordinary heroism while engaged with an adversary at imminent personal risk.

Officers receiving the 2008 Awards for Valor are:

Bluefield Police Department
Officer Joshua Wright
(photo)

On the early morning of October 19, 2007, the Bluefield Police Department received a call to assist a Tazewell County deputy on a felony vehicle stop. Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office suspected the occupants of the vehicle as being involved in two armed robberies in Tazewell County earlier that morning.

Deputy Eric Mullis of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office stopped the vehicle on Rt. 460 East inside the town limits of Bluefield at around 6:57 a.m. Officer Joshua Wright was assisting Deputy Mullins. As Deputy Mullins returned to the driver of the suspect vehicle, the driver fired two shots at Deputy Mullins, striking him in the stomach and his right hand. Officer Wright immediately withdrew his weapon and started firing at the vehicle. He fired 13 times, striking the vehicle 9 times, which resulted in the driver taking off to avoid being hit by gunfire from Officer Wright.

Officer Wright’s quick actions avoided more gunfire from the driver of the vehicle, thereby possibly saving the life of Deputy Mullins. Deputy Mullins was treated and released from the hospital that same day and all three suspects were arrested without incident in another locality within 50 hours of the original events.

Chesapeake Police Department
Police Officer Specialist Raymond Kerr
(photo)

On July 10, 2007, Police Officer Specialist Raymond Kerr observed a vehicle pull into the parking lot of a service station in the Deep Creek area of the city. The lone occupant of the vehicle did not exit and Officer Kerr noticed the vehicle did not display rear or front license plates as required by law.

Prior to his making contact with the subject, the vehicle abruptly sped from the parking lot at a high rate of speed. Officer Kerr activated his emergency equipment in an attempt to conduct a traffic stop and eventually stopped the vehicle at a nearby intersection. Upon his approach to the vehicle, Officer Kerr issued several commands to the driver that were all ignored, including one to remain in the car. The driver exited the vehicle, turned away from Officer Kerr and refused to show his hands. Upon turning around, the subject displayed a 9mm handgun and began firing at Officer Kerr. Officer Kerr simultaneously sought cover and returned fire. The subject continued to fire and fled from the scene.

Disregarding any thought to his own safety, Officer Kerr pursued the subject, returning fire until the suspect no longer presented a threat. The subject was eventually identified and determined to be wanted by two other jurisdictions. It is believed he removed the license plates from his vehicle and was planning to conduct an armed robbery of the service station.

Chesapeake Police Department
Police Officer Specialist Norwood “Trea” King
— with special recognition to K-9 Axel
(photo)

On June 12, 2007, Police Officer Specialist Trea King and his canine partner Axel were dispatched to a location in Deep Creek in reference to a possible burglary in progress. Upon his arrival he was notified the suspect had fled the area. Remaining on scene, Officer King eventually heard over the radio the suspect had been sighted on foot in a nearby field. Responding to that location, he began to follow an unmarked car and noticed the suspect flee into the woods behind several houses.

Exiting their vehicles, Officer King and Detective Keith Bailey began to approach the suspect and Officer King began to give K-9 warnings. The suspect opened fire on the officers and Officer King took a prone position with his body between the still firing suspect and his canine partner. The suspect again fled as Detective Bailey returned fire and Officer King and Axel sprinted to the front of a home for better cover.

While at this location, and after talking a citizen into going back inside his house, Officer King reacquired visual contact with the suspect in front of another home. Officer King deployed Canine Axel and began to follow. Not knowing the canine was closing in on him, the suspect ran behind another building and Axel momentarily lost visual contact. Almost immediately re-establishing the track, Axel also ran behind the building. As Officer King began to round the building’s corner, more shots were fired from almost point blank range as the suspect attempted to shoot Axel and Officer King. The shots did not dissuade Canine Axel and he immediately bit the suspect’s arm and did not release his grip until instructed to do so. At the same time, Officer King returned fire incapacitating and disarming the suspect.

Chilhowie Police Department
Lt. Kevin Testerman
(photo)

On September 17, 2007 at 09:47 hours, Chief Stephen Price and Lieutenant Kevin Testerman were dispatched to 161 Tiny Town in reference to a domestic disturbance and possible suicide attempt. At 09:53 hours, they arrived at the location and observed the offender, Billy Joe Parris, holding a shotgun under his own chin. Parris’ wife, Charlotte, was struggling with him attempting to take the shotgun away from him. Chief Price and Lt. Testerman drew their weapons and repeatedly ordered Mr. Parris to drop his weapon. Parris stated several times to Chief Price and Lt. Testerman, “Go ahead and shoot me!”

Mrs. Parris lost her hold on the shotgun and Mr. Parris ran toward the front door of the trailer. Mrs. Parris followed him shouting that the weapon was not loaded. Chief Price and Lt. Testerman continued to verbally order Parris to drop the weapon. Mr. Parris ran into his residence and Lt. Testerman took a position of cover behind the right front wheel of his vehicle. Chief Price got Mrs. Parris and moved her out of harm’s way behind the trailers at 163 Tiny Town. As the chief attempted to keep her in a safe area, Mr. Parris emerged from his residence with a loaded weapon. Lt. Testerman again ordered Mr. Parris to put the weapon down several times. Upon hearing gunshots and shot gun blasts, Chief Price turned away from Mrs. Parris towards Lt. Testerman, who exclaimed that he’d been hit.

Lt. Testerman was bleeding profusely from his hands as he took cover behind the right rear wheel of his vehicle. Lt. Testerman continued to order Mr. Parris to drop his weapon as Parris advanced on Lt. Testerman’s position. As Parris came into Chief Price’s line of sight, Lt. Testerman fired his weapon, striking the offender in the ankle. Parris reacted and Chief Price ordered him to drop his weapon, as did Lt. Testerman. This time, Parris complied and laid his weapon on the ground. Chief Price then arrested Parris and conducted a search of the offender’s person for weapons and then called for EMS units to the scene. Chief Price secured the offender’s weapon and locked it inside his patrol vehicle just as several additional units began to arrive. Lt. Testerman was placed in the ambulance and was transported to Smyth County Community Hospital with buck shot wounds to both hands and arms and the right side of his head. The offender was taken by medical flight to Bristol Regional Hospital.

Roanoke County Police Department
Officer Shaun P. Chuyka
Officer Spencer D. Lewis

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Brad M. Campbell
Deputy Richard B. Garland
(photo)

Shortly before 1:00 a.m. on the morning of February 29, 2008 Officer Chuyka of the Roanoke County Police Department received a radio message that a vehicle was headed in his direction in excess of 90 miles an hour. Officer Chuyka stopped in the median at a crossover on Rt. 220 and waited for the vehicle. A vehicle matching the suspect vehicle came through his radar at 20 miles an hour over the speed limit and he attempted to stop the vehicle.

The driver of the dark colored pickup truck refused to stop and continued South on Highway 220. Officer Spencer Lewis of the Roanoke County Police Department then joined in the pursuit. When Officer Chuyka realized the pursuit may go into Franklin County, he notified the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Garland joined in the pursuit and became the lead vehicle.

A short distance from the Franklin County line, the driver abruptly stopped in the right traffic lane with Deputy Garland behind him. Officer Chuyka stopped in the left traffic lane parallel to Deputy Garland’s vehicle, and Officer Lewis stopped in the right lane behind Deputy Garland. Deputy Campbell arrived as the deputy and officers were exiting their vehicles. From his position, Officer Chuyka immediately saw the suspect come out of the vehicle firing a semi-automatic rifle at him.

Deputy Garland, Officer Lewis and Officer Chuyka immediately returned fire, each covering the other. The exchange of gunfire lasted 15 to 20 seconds and ended when the suspect in the pickup truck was mortally wounded.

The suspect was able to empty a 30-round magazine. One round struck Officer Chuyka’s uniform pants cuff and shoe, causing a slight abrasion, and his vehicle was struck 13 times, completely disabling it. Deputy Garland’s vehicle was struck 12 times. The suspect had in his vehicle a 12-gauge shotgun, fully loaded with slugs, and a loaded 9mm pistol, as well as numerous boxes of ammunition for each of these weapons.

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The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is a statewide organization of federal, state and local police chiefs and law enforcement executives dedicated to improving the professionalism of police agencies in Virginia. The Association was founded in 1926 and has more than 600 members. The Virginia Police Chiefs Foundation is a charitable educational foundation created by the VACP to provide training and education programs for law enforcement executives.