Sheriff John Scott presented 25 members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department with highest honors Thursday during the department’s annual Valor Awards Ceremony. These medals are awarded to Department members who perform acts of great bravery or heroism, above and beyond the call of duty, to save the lives of others while placing their own lives at risk.
The ceremony included a special presentation to several community members, Mr. John A. Ramirez, Mr. Richard A. Frederick III and Ms. Gale D. Smith who were presented with the Sheriff’s Department Humanitarian Medal for their fearless and courageous actions when rendering aid to Department personnel.
The awards ceremony, sponsored by Galpin Motors and the Commerce Casino, was held at the Quiet Cannon in the city of Montebello. The Master of Ceremonies was Dodger great, Tommy Lasorda, and ABC, Channel 7’s John Gregory narrated the awards, recounting the heroic actions of each award recipient before an audience of nearly 600 Department personnel and their guests.
Deputy Sean Robert Caples
Deputy Patrick James Ince
Santa Clarita Valley Station
On September 30, 2013, Santa Clarita Valley Station personnel received a call of a residential structure fire.
Deputies Sean Caples and Patrick Ince were the first to arrive. Local residents were in a panic, and notified deputies that someone was trapped inside a second floor residence. Deputies Caples and Ince saw that the second floor balcony was engulfed in flames. Without hesitation, they immediately entered the building and saw that the fire had spread into the living room.
Both deputies made their way towards the bedrooms and found a woman who told them that her sister was still inside. The Deputies guided the woman to safety and verified her sister was safely outside as well.
Even though Deputies Caples and Ince suffered from smoke inhalation, they continued to coordinate assisting units with evacuations, traffic control and victim care.
For their great courage and bravery, Deputy Sean Caples and Deputy Patrick Ince are awarded the Meritorious Conduct Medal, Gold.
Deputy Christopher Gomez
Deputy Laura Perales
On January 8, 2013, at approximately 5:44 p.m., Century Station Deputies Laura Perales and Christopher Gomez were patrolling on Long Beach Boulevard. They heard approximately ten gunshots south of their location. They drove towards the gunshots and saw a male running with an assault rifle. The suspect entered a vehicle and fled.
Believing the suspect had just shot someone, Deputies Perales and Gomez attempted to stop the vehicle. The suspect refused to yield and the deputies initiated a vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit, the male passenger fired at deputies with an AK-47 assault rifle. Despite being shot at, the deputies continued their pursuit. A short distance later, the passenger exited the vehicle and fled into the surrounding neighborhood armed with the assault rifle, while the driver fled the scene at a high rate of speed.
Deputies Perales and Gomez set up a containment of the area and the suspect was soon apprehended and the weapon, recovered. The suspect driver was subsequently arrested and taken into custody. Further investigation revealed that the suspect had shot a victim nearby.
For displaying bravery and courageous performance during a brazen attack, Deputies Laura Perales and Christopher Gomez are awarded the Meritorious Conduct Medal, Gold.
Deputy Jesus Fernandez
Deputy Javier Flores
On October 12, 2013, Deputies Jesus Fernandez and Javier Flores, assigned to Compton Station, responded to a structure fire call, indicating someone was trapped inside. Upon their arrival, they saw a man desperately attempting to break through a wooden exterior wall of a detached garage that was fully engulfed in flames.
Deputies quickly evacuated the male to safety then moved into the heavy smoke to rescue the person inside. Using a shovel and their bare hands, the deputies created a hole large enough to rescue the woman and pull her to safety. During the rescue, Deputy Flores sustained minor burns to his right hand and was treated for his injury.
For their heroic and selfless actions to save the life of the trapped woman, who would have perished in the fire without their quick-thinking and bravery, Deputies Fernandez and Flores are awarded the Meritorious Conduct Medal, Silver.
Sergeant Clayton Marion
Sergeant Steven Owen
Deputy Curtis Foster
Deputy Erik Jepson
Deputy Lewis Orantes
Deputy Larry Pico IV
On November 26, 2013, at approximately 9:21 p.m., Deputies Erik Jepson and Larry Pico were patrolling in the city of Lancaster when they received information that known gang members were in the area, possibly armed and wearing bullet proof vests. The deputies searched for the suspects and located a vehicle matching the description given.
Information indicated that the vehicle was connected to a missing person and deputies initiated a traffic stop. Upon approaching the vehicle, Deputy Pico saw that the driver was holding a handgun and notified his partner. The driver sped off and a pursuit was initiated. Sergeant Owen joined the pursuit and after a short time, the suspect vehicle came to a stop in a cul-de-sac. The suspect driver immediately exited the vehicle and ran into a nearby apartment complex, while the passenger was taken into custody.
During the search of the driver, Deputies Jepson and Pico, saw a vehicle and inside, the driver was frantically pointing at the passenger. Recognizing the passenger as the suspect, who had fled earlier, the deputies tried to detain him. The suspect was holding the driver at gunpoint and utilizing him as a human shield.
Sergeant Owen immediately assessed the situation and, keeping in mind the victim’s safety and the safety of the deputies, ordered the use of a Taser to incapacitate the suspect. Deputy Orantes deployed his Taser which enabled the victim to escape. With the assistance of Sergeant Clayton and Deputy Foster, the suspect was detained and the handgun seized.
The investigation revealed that the suspect’s vehicle had been stolen the day before which contained a second firearm and ski masks. The suspects admitted they intended to conduct a home invasion robbery.
Throughout the incident, the sergeants and deputies’ actions were courageous and nothing short of heroic. For their tremendous bravery and determination to save the victim, placing themselves in immediate life-threatening peril, Sergeant Clayton Marion, Sergeant Steven Owen, Deputy Curtis Foster, Deputy Erik Jepson, Deputy Lewis Orantes and Deputy Larry Pico are awarded the Meritorious Conduct Medal, Gold.
Deputy Carlos Cueva
On April 9, 2013, Deputy Carlos Cueva assigned to Century Station was conducting a patrol check due to a recent rise of burglaries in the area. Deputy Cueva became suspicious when he noticed a male dressed in large, bulky clothes on a hot day. The man saw Deputy Cueva and immediately began to walk away. The suspect refused Deputy Cueva’s attempts to stop him and instead pulled a handgun out of his waistband and fired at Deputy Cueva. Deputy Cueva returned fire and the suspect fled. The suspect pointed his handgun at Deputy Cueva again and fired several more rounds. Deputy Cueva returned fire a second time, and stopped the threat.
The suspect was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. A .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol was recovered.
For displaying great bravery, Deputy Carlos Cueva is awarded the Meritorious Conduct Medal, Gold.
Sergeant Sean Banks
Deputy Rafael Cardenas
Deputy Jaime Fernandez
Deputy Carlos De La Torre
Deputy Michael Solis
Deputy Michael Coberg
Deputy Nikolai Vavakin
Deputy Ernesto Castaneda
Deputy Bradley Johnsen
Deputy Edward Martinez
Deputy Jesus Rubio
Deputy Christopher Zimmerman
Century Station and Operations Safe Streets Bureau
On the evening of January 26, 2014, Century Station Deputies Edward Martinez and Jesus Rubio responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call. Upon their arrival, they found a gunshot victim in a vehicle.
Deputies Rafael Cardenas and Jaime Fernandez, acting on information from the other deputies, tracked the suspect to his home where they found him behind a vehicle and attempted to stop him. The suspect fled, followed by pursuing deputies until the vehicle stopped.
When Sergeant Sean Banks and Deputy Michael Solis along with Cardenas and Fernandez ordered the suspect out of the vehicle, he came out holding a handgun and his infant son. Several times during the standoff, the suspect fired at deputies but they did not return fire due to the child being at the hands of the suspect.
The handling Deputies were soon joined by Deputies Carlos De La Torre, Michael Solis, Michael Coberg, Nikolai Vavakin, Ernesto Castaneda, Bradley Johnsen and Christopher Zimmerman, and together, they placed themselves in immediate peril in order to rescue the child and take the suspect into custody. At one point the suspect set the child down and the child was removed from the area of danger by a resident at the location.
The suspect again raised his weapon toward Deputies, causing them to fire at him and thereby ending the threat.
For their life saving efforts and restraint in the face of extreme danger, Deputies Casteneda, Johnsen, Martinez, Rubio and Zimmerman are awarded the Department’s Lifesaving Medal. For placing themselves in potential peril, with full knowledge of the risk involved in engaging an armed and dangerous suspect, Sergeant Banks, Deputies, Cardenas, Fernandez, De La Torre, Solis, Coberg, and Vavakin are awarded the Meritorious Conduct Medal, Silver.
Deputy John Marquez
During the morning of September 2, 2012, Temple Station Deputy John Marquez, was patrolling South El Monte. He saw a woman jaywalking and then walk into a convenience store. When pulling into the parking lot in order to contact the woman, Deputy Marquez saw a parked vehicle that he quickly learned was associated with a felony armed and dangerous suspect.
A male suspect exited the vehicle with a shotgun and pointed it directly at Deputy Marquez who immediately fired at the suspect. The suspect fired back and Deputy Marquez quickly took cover and radioed for assistance. The suspect fled across the street and again fired at Deputy Marquez. An intense exchange of gunfire ensued during which, Deputy Marquez was shot. Unaware of the full extent of his injuries, Deputy Marquez maintained his composure and continued to broadcast pertinent information to responding units.
Deputy Marquez then saw the suspect enter the nearby convenience store and exit with the woman he had seen earlier.
Although wounded from injuries sustained during the gun battle, Deputy Marquez displayed a tremendous amount of courage and tenacity in his pursuit of the suspects. For his perseverance, tremendous bravery, heroic action engaging a violent felon on two separate occasions, Deputy John Marquez is awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Meritorious Conduct Medal, Gold.
John Andre Ramirez
On June 22, 2014, Pico Rivera Station received a call of a possible assault. When Deputy Evelia Michel neared the location, she contacted a female who matched the victim’s description. The female appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was displaying erratic behavior. Without warning or provocation, the female physically assaulted Deputy Michel and threw her to the ground. The suspect held the deputy down and struck her repeatedly. Seeing what was happening, Mr. John Ramirez quickly came to the aidof Deputy Michel and pulled the female suspect off of her. While the female suspect continued her assaultive behavior, while Mr. Ramirez helped Deputy Michel gain control of the female suspect. This incident had the clear potential to turn deadly, yet due to Mr. Ramirez’s actions, the suspect was taken into custody without severe injury to Deputy Michel.
For displaying great courage, compassion and placing himself in danger while coming to the aid of a deputy sheriff, Mr. John Ramirez is awarded the Department’s Humanitarian Medal.
Gale D. Smith, M.D.
On January 31, 2012, Deputy Kimberly Boissier of Lancaster Station, was responding to investigate an attempt carjacking when she saw the alleged suspect, and stopped to investigate. The suspect immediately lunged at Deputy Boissier and tried to push her into oncoming traffic, while attempting to take her gun.
At the same time, Doctor Gale Smith was driving by when she saw the Deputy’s altercation with the suspect. Believing the officer’s life was in danger, Dr. Smith immediately stopped and ran to help the deputy who was being viciously attacked. Dr. Smith and Deputy Boissier struggled to subdue the suspect until two other men ran up to help and assisting units arrived on scene.
Dr. Smith credits her faith and trust in God to give her strength. Dr. Smith’s willingness to become involved in this dangerous situation by physically engaging the suspect most likely saved the deputy’s life. For her heroic actions, Doctor Gale Smith, a 66 year old grandmother, former correctional officer and an Air Force veteran, is awarded the Department’s Humanitarian Medal.
Richard A. Frederick III
On August 15, 2014, Lakewood Station deputies responded to a possible domestic violence incident at the local mall. While Deputy Brandon Love was escorting a man involved in the incident out of the mall, the man struck Deputy Love from behind and knocked him unconscious. The suspect kicked the deputy in the head and stomped on his neck in an attempt to kill him.
Mr. Richard Frederick saw what was happening and immediately ran to help. As the suspect was about to strike Deputy Love again, Mr. Frederick managed to knock the suspect away. Another deputy responded and took the suspect into custody.
Mr. Frederick undoubtedly saved Deputy Love’s life. For his willingness to become involved in a vicious attack of a deputy sheriff, without regard for his own safety and for his courageous actions, Mr. Richard Frederick is awarded the Department’s Humanitarian Medal.