Nineteen Virginia Law Enforcement Officers & One K-9 Receive 2022 VACP Awards for Valor

Officers from Arlington County, Ashland, Big Stone Gap, Bridgewater College, Colonial Heights, Covington, Marion, Martinsville, Norton, Roanoke, and Virginia State Police recognized for heroism.

2022 VACP AWARDS PHOTOS (Photo Credit: Erin Schrad, VACP)

On September 13, 2022, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation (VACP) presented nineteen Virginia law enforcement officers and one K-9 from eleven agencies with the Association's highest honor, the Award for Valor. The awards were presented during the VACP Awards Banquet at the 97th Annual VACP Conference, held at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia.
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.

Additionally, the Virginia Division of Capitol Police will be recognized with a Special Commendation for Heroism.

Officers receiving the 2022 Awards for Valor are: 
Arlington County Police Department
Officer Jesse R. Brown
Cpl. Thomas C.J. DeNoville
Cpl. Juan P. Montoya

On August 25, 2021, Arlington County Police Officers Jesse R. Brown and Corporal Thomas C. J.  DeNoville were speaking with another officer outside of the main entrance into the police station. A male subject walked up the nearby steps and attempted to enter the police department through the secure doors. The subject then turned his attention to all three officers, approaching them and asking if they were police officers. When the officers responded in the affirmative, the subject stated that he needed the officers to kill him and proceeded to advance on their position after removing two knives from his pocket.

Officer Brown and Corporal DeNoville distanced themselves from the subject, and Officer Brown put himself between the suspect and the unarmed, light-duty officer. Officer Brown quickly broadcasted details over the radio to alert other officers of their location and the situation.

Officer Brown and Corporal DeNoville drew their lethal and less lethal equipment options to cover the subject and gave him verbal commands, which were ignored. Officer DeNoville discharged his taser after the subject refused to drop the knives, however; the device's probes did not achieve the required contact points necessary to incapacitate the subject.

At that point, the subject turned on Officer Brown, who was armed with his department-issued firearm, and began advancing on him with knives extended. Officer Brown quickly assessed the unfolding situation and created distance between himself and the suspect, who continued to ask the officers to kill him.

Corporal Montoya, who heard Officer Brown's announcement over the radio and realized that he was approximately one block away from the incident, responded to the location to assist. His arrival distracted the suspect and caused him to change his course of movement away from Officer Brown. Officer Montoya successfully deployed his department-issued taser on the suspect, incapacitating him and allowing for other responding officers to take the suspect into custody.

This entire incident occurred in less than one minute. The involved officers quickly recognized the threat they faced and employed tactics and techniques learned through the Department's extensive training program that emphasizes de-escalation when at all possible. Officer Brown, Corporal DeNoville and Corporal Montoya remained calm, focused, and professional, bringing a highly volatile and tense situation to a successful resolution.

The highly commendable actions of these officers not only saved the life of the suspect but protected the officers and others from being injured or killed. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to present Arlington County Police Officer Jesse R. Brown, Corporal Thomas C.J. DeNoville and Corporal Juan P. Montoya with the 2022 Award for Valor.

Ashland Police Department
Lt. Grant Bonistalli
Officer Jennifer Beyers

On September 9, 2021, Ashland Police Lieutenant Grant Bonistalli and Officer Jennifer Beyers responded to a domestic situation at an apartment involving an assault with injuries. The officers knocked at the door several times before an adult male answered the door. While the male remained behind a screen door, Lieutenant Bonistalli observed something in his hand. When asked what he was holding, the suspect stated, “a newspaper.” The officers continued to speak with the suspect, who was not compliant with the officers' requests.

Upon further observation, Lieutenant Bonistalli observed a knife inside of the rolled-up newspaper. Lieutenant Bonistalli asked the suspect several times to place the knife upon the ground. The suspect began to back up, failing to comply with officer commands.

Concerned for the safety of the victim inside, Lieutenant Bonistalli and Officer Beyers entered the apartment where they challenged the suspect to drop the knife. The suspect turned toward the rear of the apartment. Not knowing where the victim was located and concerned for the victim's safety, officers pursued the suspect further into the apartment.

Due to the suspect's possession of a knife and to prevent the possibility of an additional assault, Lieutenant Bonistalli discharged his taser. Once the uninjured suspect was taken into custody, and the butcher knife was secured, the officers quickly refocused their attention to locating and assessing the female's condition. They located her upstairs in the residence with significant injuries. They were able to address her injuries alongside the Hanover Fire/EMS Department and have her transported to the emergency room.  

Both officers used their extensive training and exercised excellent de-escalation techniques and decision-making skills to safely take the suspect into custody. The VACP is proud to honor Ashland Lieutenant Grant Bonistalli and Officer Jennifer Beyers with the 2022 Award for Valor.

Big Stone Gap Police Department
Officer Michael Chandler (Posthumous)

In the early morning hours of November 13, 2021, Town of Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler was asked by an individual to conduct a welfare check on a person at a vacant residence in the 2500 block of Orr Street. When Officer Chandler arrived at the residence, he encountered at least one individual. It was during this encounter that Officer Chandler was shot and gravely injured. A Wise County Sheriff's deputy was first to arrive and found Officer Chandler lying unconscious in a ditch along a roadway to the home. His patrol car and another vehicle were found at the home with no other person being located.

Officer Chandler succumbed to his injuries around 7:00 p.m. that evening at the hospital with his family at his side. It was Officer Chandler's 29th birthday. The suspect, who was on probation for grand larceny and conspiracy, was arrested without incident by the Kingsport Tennessee Police Department at a nearby motel.

The greatest fear of any police chief is the loss of an officer in the line of duty. Officer Chandler was well loved by the Big Stone Gap Community and was a true brother to his fellow Big Stone Gap police officers. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is honored to recognize the service of Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler with this posthumous Award for Valor.

Bridgewater College Campus Police & Safety Department
Police Officer John Painter (Posthumous)
Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson (Posthumous)

On February 1, 2022, around 1:20 p.m., Bridgewater College Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson responded to a call about a suspicious man close to Memorial Hall.

Officer Painter and CSO Officer Jefferson contacted the suspect directly outside of the building. After briefly interacting with the male suspect, the suspect opened fire and shot Officers Painter and Jefferson. During the gunfire, the suspect sustained a bullet wound, and he fled from the college campus buildings.

Officer John Painter and CSO Officer J.J. Jefferson faced down evil while defending the innocent lives within those buildings. While protecting the community they loved and cared for, Officer John Painter and CSO Officer J.J. Jefferson refused to back down or surrender their ground as they were killed in the line of duty by a person with malevolent actions that resulted in harm to the Bridgewater College family.

Officer John Painter and CSO Officer J.J. Jefferson, known by the campus community as the “Dynamic Duo,” always patrolled together, epitomizing community engagement. Their sheep-doggish heartbeat for the safety of the students compelled them to quickly respond. They knew that many students, faculty and campus staff could be in danger on what has historically been a safe and secure college campus.

Safety Officer Jefferson was an unsworn, unarmed security officer at Bridgewater College. While the Award for Valor is routinely reserved for sworn law enforcement officers, the VACP departs from that tradition in this event.  We are proud to honor Bridgewater College Police Officer John Painter and Campus Security Officer J. J. Jefferson posthumously with the 2022 VACP Award for Valor.

Colonial Heights Police Department
Lt. James Stacey Whitt

On March 20, 2022, at 1920 hours, Colonial Heights Police Lieutenant James Stacey Whitt responded to a city residence for a report of a female who had been shot by her husband. He was able to get a statement from the female identifying her husband as the shooter.

Lieutenant Whitt and other officers conducted a search of the property and located a garage in the back of the residence. To ensure the safety of responding officers, Lt. Whitt opened the side door of that structure and located the husband inside the garage with a firearm in his hand. Lt. Whitt remained in the doorway and began to speak with the husband.

Lieutenant Whitt has had no formal negotiation training; however, he was able to keep the husband talking and remained engaged throughout the two-hour negotiation. A plan was devised to deploy a taser if the man moved away from the firearm. As the plan progressed, the taser was deployed but was ineffective, and the male turned and ran back to the firearm and pointed the firearm at Lt. Whitt. One officer discharged his firearm, missing the suspect. Lt. Whitt was able to gain control of the incident and began the negotiation process again. Meanwhile, Chesterfield County Police responded with negotiators and a S.W.A.T. team. Once they were on scene, Lt. Whitt was removed from the scene and negotiations resumed via phone. The suspect shot himself in the abdomen several hours later. Medical aid was provided and he and his wife both survived the incident.

Lieutenant Whitt remained calm throughout the incident, established plans of action, and was able to effectively communicate with the suspect. Lt. Whitt's selfless act of courage and compassion allowed officers to remain safe and uninjured.

The VACP is honored to present Colonial Heights Lieutenant James Stacey Whitt with the 2022 VACP Award for Valor.

Covington Division of Police
Officer Caleb Ogilvie (Posthumous)
Officer Justin Jefferson
Detective Richard Baker

On March 14, 2022, Covington Police Officers Caleb Ogilvie and Justin Jefferson responded to a disturbance call at a local gas station convenience store. Covington Detective Richard Baker arrived separately to help secure the scene. The suspect got into an argument with a relative working at the business and fatally shot him. When Covington Police officers and Alleghany County deputies arrived on scene, they saw the armed suspect leaving the store. Shots were fired, leading to the death of the suspect and Covington Police Officer Caleb Daniel Ogilvie.

No other employees were injured in the shooting, and no customers inside or outside of the business or additional law enforcement officers were injured. Details of the incident are still under investigation by the Alleghany County Commonwealth's Attorney.

Officers Ogilvie and Jefferson and Detective Baker responded quickly and bravely to protect the employees and customers of the business and to bring the incident to an end. The Covington Police Department has never before suffered the line of duty death of an officer.

The VACP is honored to present the 2022 Award for Valor to Covington Officer Justin Jefferson and Detective Richard Baker, and posthumously to Officer Caleb Ogilvie, who tragically lost his life in service to his community.

Marion Police Department
Officer Mason Wagoner

On Monday October 4th, 2021 Officer Wagoner was dispatched to the Smyth County Sheriffs Office processing center, to assist a female victim in obtaining an Emergency Protective Order against her husband. When Officer Wagoner arrived on scene, he spoke with the victim who advised that her husband was intoxicated and had displayed violent tendencies toward her. She further informed Officer Wagoner that he followed her to the processing center and was lying in wait, outside.

Officer Wagoner located the suspect outside of the center, and as he approached the vehicle he observed the suspect in an intoxicated state and noted an open container in the passenger compartment. When Officer Wagoner inquired about the open container, the suspect exited his vehicle and produced a compound bow. During these tense moments the suspect shouted over and over again "shoot me" and made clear he desired this encounter to end with violence. After making several verbal indications that he wanted to be shot by Officer Wagoner, the suspect nocked an arrow into the bow in order to force such a conclusion, by putting Officer Wagoner at a decision to defend his own life. Officer Wagoner immediately deployed his taser and simultaneously stripped the compound bow from the suspect 's hand. Officer Wagoner, along with assisting units, eventually took the suspect into custody, and the suspect was ultimately charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

If it were not for the valiant and professionally aware response of Officer Wagoner in disarming the suspect and effecting the arrest, this encounter may have ended with a loss of life. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to present the 2022 Award for Valor to Marion Police Officer Mason Wagoner. 

Martinsville Police Department
Sgt. Chase Bennett

On February 5, 2021, while on patrol, Martinsville Police Sergeant Chase Bennett heard the sound of gunfire coming from the area of the El Norteno restaurant. Upon arrival, Sergeant Bennett reported that multiple people and vehicles were hurriedly leaving the restaurant. Sergeant Bennett exited his vehicle with his patrol rifle when the ongoing gun battle that had begun inside spilled outside. Multiple individuals were firing handguns in the restaurant's outdoor seating area. At least one person had been hit and was on the ground while the others continued to fire. Sergeant Bennett gave commands to drop their weapons, but the suspects continued firing. Sergeant Bennett then engaged two of the armed suspects with his patrol rifle. Two of the armed suspects stopped firing and retreated into the restaurant, pulling a wounded man with them. Sergeant Bennett held the scene secure until multiple other units arrived. After the arrival of other units, Sergeant Bennett and others made entry into the restaurant, where they found that two men had been killed prior to Sergeant Bennett's arrival and two others shot during the ensuing gun battle.

Sergeant Bennett's quick and heroic actions in the face of imminent danger to put an end to the gun battle that had already claimed two lives and likely would have claimed the lives of others. In addition to saving lives, his actions led to the arrest and prosecution of multiple individuals. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to present the 2022 Award for Valor to Martinsville Police Sergeant Chase Bennett.

Norton Police Department
Chief James C. Lane
Sgt. Jason F. McConnell

On May 7, 2021, Norton Police Chief James C. Lane responded to assist other officers on a routine shoplifting call near the area of Walmart in the City of Norton. Chief Lane was searching the area around the shopping center for a suspect that fled on foot when he observed a man matching the description of the suspect. Chief Lane notified dispatch of his location and the suspect's description as he pulled over to initiate contact. Before Chief Lane was able to exit his vehicle, the suspect pulled out a gun and opened fire on Chief Lane. Chief Lane was able to make the call for help over the radio, advising that he had been shot.  He escaped the vehicle to return fire on the suspect.

Sergeant Jason McConnell (now Norton City Sheriff McConnell) responded to Chief Lane's call for assistance in record time. Upon Sergeant McConnell's arrival he found Chief Lane on the ground with gunshot wounds. Both Sergeant McConnell and Chief Lane were able to return fire on the suspect and eliminate the threat. Once the suspect was down and unarmed, Sergeant McConnell immediately rendered medical aid to both the suspect and Chief Lane. Chief Lane suffered several gunshot wounds that resulted in an extensive recovery. The suspect did also survive the incident with injuries from gunshot wounds and is awaiting trial. Norton Chief James Lane and Sergeant Jason McConnell, now Sheriff McConnell, responded bravely to end the incident despite the injuries to Chief Lane. The VACP is honored to present them with the 2022 Award for Valor.

Roanoke Police Department
Sgt. Michael E. Thompson
K-9 Loki

On July 24, 2021, Sergeant Michael E. Thompson and his partner, K-9 Loki, were on patrol in downtown Roanoke. There had been a recent spree of property crimes in the area and Sergeant Thompson, along with the patrol shift working that night, were positioning themselves in locations that may have been targeted by the suspected offender.

City of Roanoke E-911 Center personnel dispatched a call regarding a larceny from a motor vehicle that had just been reported near Sergeant Thompson's location. As he scanned the area, Sergeant Thompson quickly spotted a person who appeared to match the description of the suspect from the property crimes spree. Sergeant Thompson attempted to speak with the person, but the individual refused to communicate with Sergeant Thompson or comply with his orders to stop. The suspect began to flee the area on foot, at which point Sergeant Thompson engaged in a foot pursuit with the suspect. He gave verbal warnings that his partner, K-9 Loki, would be deployed if the suspect did not stop running. The offender continued to flee, which is when K-9 Loki was deployed and caught up to the pursuit.

K-9 Loki managed to apprehend the fleeing suspect on the arm. The suspect then produced a knife but dropped it shortly after K-9 Loki adjusted his grip on the man's arm. The man then pulled a personal taser device out of his pocket and began repeatedly shocking K-9 Loki in the neck with the device. Even though K-9 Loki was shocked in the neck several times, he did not loosen his grip or release the suspect's arm. Sergeant Thompson began assisting his K-9 partner. He attempted to knock the taser out of the man's hands and was shocked in the process. Eventually the man dropped the taser, but at that point he pulled garden shears from another pocket and began stabbing at K-9 Loki's chest. Sergeant Thompson managed to knock the garden shears away from the man's hands without injury to himself or K-9 Loki, but the fight was not yet over.

Astonishingly, the suspect then lowered his face to K-9 Loki's and bit down on K-9 Loki's snout. Although K-9 Loki appeared to be in tremendous distress and pain, he continued to hold onto the man's arm. After numerous attempts to remove the man's mouth from K-9 Loki's snout, Sergeant Thompson resorted to using pepper spray on the suspect. The pepper spray was deployed, and the suspect began coughing and finally detached himself from K-9 Loki's nose. At that point Sergeant Thompson gave the “release” command to K-9 Loki to assess any potential injuries.

Additional officers had responded to Sergeant Thompson's distress call and were now on scene, attempting to take the suspect into custody; however, the man continuously fought back and would not comply with any commands. K-9 Loki bravely engaged with the suspect again, even after being injured. It was only after K-9 Loki's second apprehension that the man was successfully taken into custody.

K-9 Loki was immediately rushed to the vet after this incident. Fortunately, K-9 Loki did not suffer any serious injuries and was able to return to work after the bite wounds on his nose healed. An injury to a K-9's nose is potentially career ending, and we can all be very thankful that these injuries were not serious enough to prematurely retire K-9 Loki. K-9 Loki also was wearing a personal safety vest that was donated to the Roanoke Police Department by Spike's K9 Fund. Without that vest, the garden shears would have made contact with K-9 Loki's chest, and he could have been gravely injured or killed.

The suspect was charged with numerous property crimes, along with felony assault of a Police K-9 and felony assault of a law enforcement officer for the physical altercation involving K-9 Loki and Sergeant Thompson. Outstanding warrants for assault on a law enforcement officer from another jurisdiction also were served.

Though they did not know it at the time, this suspect had a violent history and was carrying a number of weapons. Sergeant Thompson and K-9 Loki did not hesitate to put themselves in danger to serve and protect the City of Roanoke. Thanks to Sergeant Thompson's investigative skills and K-9 Loki's courageous actions, a career criminal was apprehended before he could commit another crime or harm anyone else.

The VACP is very proud to present the 2022 Award for Valor to Roanoke Police Sergeant Michael E. Thompson and K-9 Loki.

Virginia State Police
Master Trooper Christopher D. Bingham
CVEO Paul G. Judy

On any given day, Virginia State Police Master Trooper Christopher D. Bingham and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Paul G. Judy will inspect several hundred commercial vehicles during their shift at the Dahlgren Weigh Station in King George County. On occasion, it is also common for passenger vehicles to pull into the weigh station parking lot to ask for directions or to make a momentary stop. Therefore neither officer gave much thought to the white Chevrolet Tahoe driving up to them shortly before 11 a.m. on March 25, 2021.

Officer Judy and Master Trooper Bingham were conducting an inspection when the Tahoe approached them. Officer Judy spoke to the driver very briefly and the Tahoe proceeded to pull around to the back of the weigh station office building and into the parking lot on the other side. Without further thought or concern, Officer Judy and Master Trooper Bingham returned to their ongoing inspection of a box truck. They were startled to see the Tahoe's female passenger come sprinting by them screaming as she headed towards a shed near the access road. As they took notice of her, they saw the Tahoe's driver chasing after her with a gun in his hand. Both quickly disappeared behind the shed and shots rang out.

Officer Judy and Master Trooper Bingham immediately ran towards the gunfire and before they could take cover, the Tahoe's driver stepped out from behind the shed and began firing at them. Both the officer and trooper returned fire, striking the gunman. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene. During the exchange of gunfire, the driver of the box truck that was being inspected was struck by a bullet fired by the Tahoe driver's gun. Officer Judy and Master Trooper Bingham secured the scene, called for rescue, split up, and began administering aid to the driver of the box truck and to the female, who were shot during the initial burst of gunfire behind the shed. Both survived their injuries. Neither Master Trooper Bingham nor Officer Judy was injured.

The Tahoe driver's actions placed countless individuals in a life-and-death situation: the female passenger, box truck driver, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) employees working inside the weigh station building, motorists traveling just a few hundred feet away on Route 301, and Officer Judy and Master Trooper Bingham. Those lives were saved by the rapid, selfless actions of Master Trooper Bingham and Officer Judy. Both readily put their own safety at risk as they purposely engaged the shooter to get him away from the injured female and to prevent him from harming others.

It was later confirmed that the gunman had an extensive, violent criminal record. The Office of the Medical Examiner's autopsy and examination confirmed the presence of multiple illegal narcotics in his bloodstream.

The concerted, valiant actions demonstrated by Master Trooper Bingham and Officer Judy went well above and beyond the call of duty. The VACP is proud to present the 2022 Award for Valor to Virginia State Police Master Trooper Christopher D. Bingham and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Paul G. Judy.


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