2012 Medal of Valor RecipientsDespondent over the recent breakup with his girlfriend, a man armed himself with a handgun and a knife and walked to the area of Sunset and Vine. Once he arrived at the iconic intersection, he began firing indiscriminately at unsuspecting pedestrians and passing vehicles.
Residents and other passersby initially believed they were witnessing part of a movie that was being filmed nearby. The reality of the situation began to set in when onlookers heard the sound of bullets piercing vehicles and shattering windows. A flood of frantic calls soon flowed into the 911 system to report a man firing a gun in the area of Vine Street.
Detective Craig Marquez, a plain clothes officer assigned to Hollywood Area Detectives, was told by a transient that he heard gun shots a few blocks down. As he was getting into his patrol car, he saw people running by and cars speeding past him. Detective Marquez heard additional gunfire and immediately responded to the area of the shooting. Officer Kevin Cotter was nearby working off-duty at a filming site when a person ran up to him screaming that there was a man shooting at people down the street. Officer Cotter immediately ran toward the direction of the suspect.
Responding from separate locations, Detective Marquez and Officer Cotter reached the intersection of Sunset and Vine at the exact same time and immediately recognized each other. The two officers have known each other for 14 years and had worked together before.
Detective Marquez and Officer Cotter immediately formulated a tactical plan based on each other’s police training and experience and utilized available cover on the sidewalk to approach the suspect.
From their location, they observed the suspect as he stood in the street waving his gun in the air and screaming. As pedestrians scrambled for cover, Marquez and Cotter remained courageous and calm in the face of danger. With total disregard for their safety, both officers confronted the suspect and ordered him to drop the knife in his hand and the gun in his waistband and submit to arrest. The suspect refused to comply with the officers’ commands and ran toward them with his knife. Both officers fired their weapons, striking the suspect and causing him to fall to the ground.
Detective Marquez and Officer Cotter fearlessly brought the horrific event to an end and rendered the scene safe. Had it not been for the decisive action by both Marquez and Cotter, more innocent lives would undoubtedly have been lost.
The courageous and selfless actions of Detective Marquez and Officer Cotter reflect the highest standards of the Los Angeles Police Department and the City of Los Angeles.
The Medal of Valor is bestowed upon:
During the evening shift on July 10, 2010, Officers Alejandro Valencia and Fernando Sanchez were on patrol in the Foothill Division. The officers pulled up to an intersection where they saw a driver throw what appeared to be a beer can out the car’s window. Believing the driver was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics and posed a threat to himself and the community, Officers Valencia and Sanchez initiated a traffic stop. However, the driver failed to stop and sped away from the officers who immediately requested backup and air support while they pursued the fleeing suspect.
Officers Valencia and Sanchez continued their pursuit until the suspect suddenly stopped.
Without warning and before the officers could even come to a stop, the suspect exited the car and fired his semi-automatic handgun at them. The bullets ripped through the police car, pierced the front windshield and struck Officer Valencia in his right arm.
Relying on his training and instincts, Officer Valencia flung open his door and returned fire.
With a barrage of bullets flying everywhere and shards of glass exploding from the passenger side window, Officer Sanchez exited the black and white and took a few steps back to unholster and return fire. He lost his footing on the shards of broken glass and fell to the ground, breaking his wrist in the process.
Officer Valencia saw his partner fall to the ground and thought he had been shot by the suspect. Putting his partner’s well-being before his own, Officer Valencia continued to engage the suspect with his wounded arm and began to broadcast “officer down” calls on the radio with his left hand.
At that time, Officer Sanchez rose to his feet and began firing to provide cover for his partner. Officer Valencia continued engaging the suspect until he felt he was no longer a threat and made his way to the rear of the police car to aid his partner.
As Officer Valencia took cover behind their car to broadcast their location and request help once again, Officer Sanchez saw the suspect making movements. Believing he was still a threat, Officer Sanchez re-engaged the suspect until he was rendered immobile. Other officers arrived and took the suspect into custody.
We honor these two brave and courageous officers for their willingness to put themselves in extreme danger to protect their fellow citizens and each other. For their courage in action, the Medal of Valor is awarded to: