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2015 in Review: Celebrating 6 police heroes who saved lives

Here are some selected examples of people who are with their families this Christmas because of the courage and decisive action of American police officers


When police officers nationwide find someone in deadly peril they act time and time again in a manner that demonstrates that all lives matter to them, even over their own. Here are some selected examples of people who are with their families this Christmas because of the courage and decisive action of American police officers.

In December 2014 — technically last year but too late to be included in 2014’s edition of this annual article and most certainly worthy of mention — an Austin (Tex.) Mounted Officer named Adam Johnson heard shots as he was stabling two horses.

Homegrown terrorist Steven McQuilliams was armed with a rifle and was firing at a Federal Court House, the Austin Police Department, and the Mexican Consulate. He managed to fire 200 rounds before Sergeant Johnson — who was still holding the reigns of the horses — spotted him. Johnson drew and fired one shot while holding his duty weapon with only his strong hand. He instantly dropped the shooter, who was 104 yards away.

It is impossible to determine how many lives were saved by Sergeant Johnson’s incredibly difficult shot. The follow-up investigation revealed documents and maps in McQuilliams’ possession in which he had marked 34 intended targets, including two churches. The innocent human beings who occupy these targets on a daily basis are enjoying Christmas this year quite possibly thanks to Sergeant Johnson’s 312-foot shot.

In March 2015, Sergeant Joe Hudson of the Griffin (Ga.) Police Department arrived at the scene of a fire, where a woman reported that her three-year-old grandson was still inside the burning house. Fire-rescue was not on scene and the smoke and fire emanating from the house suggested the child – if still alive – could not survive much longer. Sergeant Hudson disregarded his own safety and entered the house. After 60 tense seconds, Hudson exited with the child safe in his arms.

During an interview after his heroic actions Hudson said simply, “…there is so much negativity, it felt good that day. I felt good when I went home.”

In May 2015, a Garland (Tex.) police officer who has requested his name not be released stopped terrorists Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who had intended an attack on the Curtis Culwell Center. The two armed men drove up to the entrance, which was blocked by a squad, and exited their vehicle.

This happened to be the post of a Garland PD traffic officer working security for the event. He exited his squad and joined the gun fight started by these two wannabe-mass-murderers. The rifle-toting terrorists would kill no one on this day because they ambushed the wrong officer. He instantly engaged and killed both terrorists in a gun fight that was over in 15 seconds.

ISIS later claimed responsibility, identifying Simpson and Soofi as soldiers of the Caliphate. Their targets were 200 cartoonists and the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

In October 2015, Cleveland Police Officer David Muniz responded to a domestic disturbance with other officers at which 64-year-old Theodore Johnson was drinking and waving a gun around. As Muniz arrived, the suspect suddenly appeared and shot the officer in the chest. Thankfully, the bullet was stopped by Muniz’s vest.

Amazingly, Muniz went to extraordinary lengths to save Johnson from himself. As expected, Muniz leveled his duty weapon at Johnson. Johnson still held the gun he had just shot Muniz with down at his side. Instead of shooting, Muniz declared, “We don’t want to kill you. Drop the gun. You need some help. I know you shot me, but we’re not going to shoot you.”

Sadly, Johnson did not possess Muniz’s restraint. Instead, he shouted angrily toward the officers and raised his gun to fire again, but this time he was shot by the officers on scene. The lives saved by these officers’ actions on this night were their own.

Also in October 2015, Oklahoma City Police Officer Sergeant Jacob Cole was at the scene of a jumper on the I-35 bridge. Cole tried to calm the subject as he precariously risked his own life to inch closer and closer to the despondent man. As Cole got within reach, the man jumped.

As he fell, Cole snatched the suspect’s shirt and held tight. Bystanders breathlessly watched the jumper dangle, momentarily suspended above imminent death. The only thing saving him was the determined grasp of Sergeant Cole. Cole held tight until other officers arrived to assist him in pulling the man back onto the bridge. Pure muscle and grit won the day.

In October once again, Montgomery County (Md.) Police Officer James Herman was on his way home at the end of his shift when a driver spotted his squad and pulled up to it. A frantic grandmother reported her nine-month-old granddaughter was not breathing and was unresponsive.

Herman immediately began CPR on the child and an off-duty fireman stopped to lend a hand. The child, who was breathless and cyanotic, was brought back to life. Little Kenzie was discovered to have a heart defect. Thanks to Officer Herman, she survived.

Protecting Life
The selfless actions of all of these officers — and so many others, too many to mention here — prove that we must believe there is good in the world, and that American police officers are a force for good in the world. Here’s to these wonderful “Knights of Christmas.”

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.

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