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Seven Virginia Officers Receive 2009 VACP/VPCF Awards for Valor

August 12, 2009 | VACP

News Image The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police on August 11, 2009 presented seven Virginia police officers from six 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 at the Newport News Marriott at City Center in Newport News, 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 2009 Awards for Valor are:

Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Sean M. Fleming – Award for Valor

(Officer Anthony Kelly – Award for Lifesaving)

On June 1, 2009 at approximately 4:15 p.m., Chesapeake Police Officer Sean Fleming was on his way home from work. While driving, he noticed two marked police vehicles operating their emergency equipment and attempting to stop a white van. He quickly became aware via his portable radio that a felony pursuit was in progress and began to drive in the direction of his fellow officers.

While approaching the scene, a lone individual exited a wood line along the roadway and immediately caught sight of Officer Fleming, who was still in his uniform and operating his personal vehicle. The individual leveled an AK-style assault rifle in Officer Fleming’s direction and opened fire. Officer Fleming’s vehicle was riddled with no fewer than twenty bullet holes, four which hit Officer Fleming. Undeterred and possessing a will to survive, Officer Fleming immediately returned fire. Still maintaining his composure after the incoming shots subsided, he broadcast over the radio that he had been hit numerous times.

Chesapeake Police Officer Anthony Kelly arrived at the chaotic scene during the exchange of gunfire. Information available at the time indicated other suspects had fled the traffic stop and might also be in the wood line in possession of assault rifles. Officer Kelly immediately responded to Officer Fleming’s location and dragged him several yards to an area of relative cover. Additional responding officers assisted Officer Kelly in moving Officer Fleming to an even safer location where they began to administer first aid. Officer Anthony Kelly willingly and without hesitation responded to the imminent need of a fellow officer. For his actions, he is recognized with the VACP/VPCF Award for Lifesaving.

Officer Sean 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 actions stopped an immediate and deadly threat to other officers and citizens. For his actions, he is recognized with the VACP/VPCF Award for Valor.

Fredericksburg Police Department
Officer Joe Young

On the night of June 6, 2008, Fredericksburg Officer Todd Bahr was shot and killed in the line of duty while pursuing an armed suspect. During that incident of tragedy and chaos, Officer Joe Young responded with exceptional bravery and tactical thinking to the deadly set of circumstances that resulted in the death of Officer Bahr.

When Officer Young realized that the armed suspect involved in a domestic altercation was heading toward his location in an apartment complex, he first secured the female target and her family members inside the apartment with instructions to barricade themselves. Officer Young removed his civilian ride-along to another area with instructions to conceal himself until he was given the all-clear. Officer Young then repositioned his patrol car away from the intended victim’s location in a successful effort to divert the attention of the gunman. He placed himself on the landing overlooking the parking lot as the final barrier between the gunman and his target.

Moments later, the gunman ran into the parking lot and stopped at the patrol car, then immediately began shooting toward two Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office deputies who were responding as back-up. Officer Young engaged in a gun battle with the suspect. The gunman was struck four times before he ultimately took his own life with a self-inflicted shot to the head. Officer Young controlled a chaotic situation and never lost sight of his primary objective of protecting the citizens he serves. He was not aware that earlier the armed suspect had shot and killed Joe’s friend and squad-mate Officer Todd Bahr and was heading directly to his ex-girlfriend’s home with obvious deadly intentions. Officer Young’s actions on the night of June 6 undoubtedly saved the lives of fellow officers and innocent civilians, and set an example of outstanding and professional police work.

Hampton Division of Police
SPO Christopher L. Munger

While training a new patrol officer on a summer evening in 2008, Hampton Senior Police Officer Christopher L. Munger was called to assist with a traffic stop. Upon arriving, he positioned himself behind the rear passenger door of the suspect vehicle. As another K-9 officer approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, the K-9 alerted by scratching at the suspect’s automobile.

While the originating officer began to remove the driver from the vehicle, the front seat passenger appeared to be trying to remove something from his pockets. As Officer Munger slowly approached the passenger side window, the passenger pulled out a small black handgun and fired two shots towards the Officer. Officer Munger, having been only a foot away, felt a piercing sensation in his chest. He then drew his weapon, moved back towards a police unit for cover and began exchanging gunfire. The suspect exited the vehicle and fled. Officer Munger radioed for a medic and walked back over to assist fellow officers with the remaining suspects. Not knowing whether the bullets had penetrated his vest, he stood by one of the police vehicles and began removing his equipment and clothing to determine his status. To his relief, the two bullets had not penetrated his ballistic vest but did remain only inches from his person. Medics arrived and shortly afterward Officer Munger was transported to a local hospital for observation.

If not for the use of a ballistic vest, this incident could have ended in tragedy. Officer Munger’s confidence, calmness and tactical response were text-book reactions produced by his years of training. He engaged an armed suspect open-handedly without concern for his own safety. As a result, every Division officer has a renewed appreciation for the excellent contribution that SPO Christopher Munger made not only for his fellow officers and the Hampton Police Division, but for the citizens of the city in which he serves.

Norfolk Police Department
Officer Victor E. Decker

On March 19, 2009, Norfolk Officer Victor E. Decker confronted two armed suspects who had just committed a robbery and shooting, the victim of which later died.

Shortly after midnight, Marlon Sanders and Brighton Alderman walked up to Brian Carter, who was sitting in his car in downtown Norfolk. Sanders and Alderman demanded money and then shot Mr. Carter in the head and fled the scene.

Officer Victor E. Decker was alone on bicycle patrol on Plume Street when he heard several gunshots from the area of Bank Street. He notified the dispatcher and immediately rode towards the area of the gunfire. As he approached the area, Officer Decker encountered Sanders and Alderman running towards him and saw that Sanders had a black semi automatic handgun in his hand.

Officer Decker leaped from his bike and confronted the suspects, giving commands for Sanders to drop his weapon. Sanders refused and turned the gun on Officer Decker, firing several times. Officer Decker returned fire, striking Sanders, while successfully ordering Alderman to the ground.

Officer Decker handcuffed Sanders, and secured the suspect’s handgun. He went to Alderman and handcuffed him and found he was armed with a knife. Officer Decker then called for assistance to include officers and paramedics. The suspect, Marlon Sanders, died at the scene. Other officers who arrived on scene checked the area and found the robbery victim, Brian Carter, suffering from a gunshot wound. Mr. Carter was rushed to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Officer Victor E. Decker stood alone in the face of danger, under fire, and stopped two fleeing armed predators that robbed and killed 24-year-old Brain Carter. Officer Decker’s performance under fire was heroic and an example of extraordinary valor.

Richmond Police Department
Officer Daniel Awad

On October 10, 2008, Richmond Officer Daniel Awad responded to a call of a robbery and shooting at Crossroads Coffee shop. While responding, Officer Awad and his training officer stopped to identify a possible suspect who then ran from them.

Without hesitation, Officer Awad jumped out of his police car and chased the suspect down an alley. While in foot pursuit, the suspect took aim and fired at Officer Awad.

There was no available cover and Officer Awad kept chasing. He then helped set up a perimeter where the suspect was caught and arrested.

In the face of mortal danger, Officer Awad demonstrated extreme courage in continuing a chase that led to the apprehension of an extremely violent person. Because of his courage and determination, he is presented with the 2009 Award for Valor.

Virginia Beach Police Department
Officer Eli C. Kendrick

On December 21, 2008, Officer Eli C. Kendrick was off-duty, washing his personal vehicle at a car wash. He was approached by a masked suspect armed with a semi-automatic pistol, demanding his property. Officer Kendrick calmly complied, handing the suspect his wallet, car keys and cell phone. Officer Kendrick grabbed the suspect’s gun, and they engaged in a physical confrontation. The suspect struck Officer Kendrick on the right side of the head, causing him to bleed from his right ear.

Officer Kendrick overpowered the suspect, took the gun away and fired one round from the suspect’s pistol at the suspect. The round missed the suspect and the handgun malfunctioned. As he attempted to clear the malfunction, the suspect fled. Officer Kendrick began to chase the suspect, and was confronted by a second suspect. After a short chase, the two suspects turned to face Officer Kendrick, who tried to order the suspects to the ground. Officer Kendrick and the suspects were engaged in a verbal confrontation when the first suspect dropped Officer Kendrick’s property on the ground. Officer Kendrick moved closer, hoping to obtain his cell phone and call for help. Officer Kendrick struck the first suspect, causing him to fall to the ground, and the second suspect began assaulting Officer Kendrick.

Both suspects fled the scene. As Officer Kendrick chased the suspects, he called Emergency Communications, notifying them of the robbery and requesting assistance.

Officer L. Beach and Master Police Officer J. Monts were nearby and apprehended the first suspect. The second suspect was taken into custody a short time later without further incident.

Officer Kendrick exhibited conspicuous gallantry and bravery, and his actions were well above and beyond the call of duty of a law enforcement officer, earning him the 2009 Award for Valor.

(It should be noted that since that incident occurred, Kendrick resigned from the Virginia Beach Police Department as a full-time sworn officer, but transitioned to the Auxiliary Officer’s Program. He is currently assigned to VBPD’s Fourth Police Precinct.)

Virginia Beach Police Department
MPO Christian K. Wright

On February 26, 2008, Virginia Beach Master Police Officer Christian K. Wright was assigned to the midnight shift at the 4th precinct. Since working at that precinct most of his career, MPO Wright developed a great working knowledge of a specific zone, which in this case was 420 zone. At 11:16 p.m. on this date, MPO Wright noticed an individual walking behind a convenience store in the 6600 block of Indian River Road and Macdonald Road.

MPO Wright pulled his vehicle over to the side of the road and began to ask the individual what he was doing behind the building. The individual stated he had just come from the bus stop and was cutting through behind the building. MPO Wright was familiar with his zone and knew there was no bus stop located near the area and began to ask him more questions. The individual became nervous while answering questions. Furthermore, during the questioning, MPO Wright noticed the top portion of a hand gun in the suspect’s rear pocket. MPO Wright began to order the individual to put his hands up and get on the ground.

At first, the individual was cooperative and got on the ground, lying on his stomach. It was at this time that MPO Wright made a radio transmission relaying his encounter with an armed individual. MPO Wright approached the suspect and while attempting to handcuff him, the suspect knocked MPO Wright off balance as his second hand was about to be cuffed. The suspect returned to his feet, but MPO Wright followed, continually attempting to gain custody of the suspect. The suspect, while resisting, struck MPO Wright in the head with the hand that had been secured with the handcuffs, causing him to sustain a contusion and various abrasions. MPO Wright pushed the suspect backwards, creating distance between himself and the suspect. The suspect became frustrated and began to reach for the weapon in his rear pocket. At that time MPO Wright drew his service weapon and shot the suspect.

The suspect fled on foot and later collapsed and succumbed to his wounds about 50-60 yards from the initial scene. During this incident, MPO Wright had no idea that the suspect he had encountered in a deadly force situation had just committed an armed robbery of a pizza restaurant located across the street from where the encounter occurred. The victim of that robbery had not yet contacted the police. MPO Wright also sustained an injury to his finger during the encounter, which required several weeks recovery time.

MPO Wright’s keen police skills and training and his experience in this particular zone prevented the suspect from escaping with this crime as well as possibly committing more crimes. MPO Wright’s bravery and willingness to win the fight has earned him the 2009 Award for Valor.

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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.

CAPTION: Front, l. to r. -- SPO Christopher L. Munger, Hampton; Officer Eli C. Kendrick, Virginia Beach; and Officer Sean M. Fleming, Chesapeake.
Back, l. to r. -- Officer Daniel Awad, Richmond; Officer Joe Young, Fredericksburg; and Officer Victor E. Decker, Norfolk.
(Not pictured: MPO Christian K. Wright, Virginia Beach. Officer Wright was unable to attend the awards banquet.)

LINK TO ALL PHOTOS