President Barack Obama has drawn criticism from police organizations for his support of anti-police protest organizations such as Black Lives Matter, but today he hosted a ceremony at the White House to honor police and law enforcement officials for their heroic efforts.
Obama reminded the audience that many of the recipients faced particular danger from firearms while on their police beat.
“They stood up to dangerous individuals brandishing assault rifles, handguns, and knives,” he said, highlighting the dangers faced by police officers on duty.
“The men and women who run toward danger remind us with your courage and humility what the highest form of citizenship looks like,” he added.
Obama used the occasion to highlight his police task force to improve relations with Black Lives Matter protesters and police officers.
“We can show our respect by listening to you, learning from you, giving you the resources that you need to do the jobs,” he said. “That’s the mission of our police task force.”
He also used the occasion to call on Congress for more criminal justice reform.
Here is the list of the Medal of Valor recipients via the White House:
- Officer Mario Gutierrez (Miami-Dade Police Department, FL) For bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack. Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.
- Patrolman Louis Cioci (Johnson City Police Department, NY) For courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman. After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioci pursued and apprehended the gunman at a crowded hospital, thereby saving the lives of employees, patients, and visitors.
- Officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks (Santa Monica Police Department, CA), and Captain Raymond Bottenfield (Santa Monica College Police Department, CA) For courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage. Officer Salas, Officer Sparks, and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College.
- Major David Huff (Midwest City Police Department, OK) For uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation. Major Huff saved the life of a two-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knife point.
- Officer Donald Thompson (Los Angeles Police Department, CA) For courageous action to save an accident victim. While off duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.
- Officer Coral Walker (Omaha Police Department, NE) For taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter. After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker single-handedly incapacitated a man who had killed and injured multiple victims on a shooting spree.
- Officer Gregory Stevens (Garland Police Department, TX) For demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives. Officer Stevens exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued two heavily-armed assailants preventing a mass shooting.
- Fallen Sergeant Robert Wilson III (Philadelphia Police Department, PA) For giving his life to protect innocent civilians. Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm’s way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from the assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.
- Officer Niel Johnson (North Miami Police Department, FL) For swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree. Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon, and apprehended the assailant.
- Special Agent Tyler Call (Federal Bureau of Investigation) For his heroic actions to save a hostage. Special Agent Call, who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.
- Deputy Joey Tortorella (Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, NY) For placing himself in grave danger to protect his community. Deputy Tortorella confronted and subdued a volatile gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home and by doing so prevented the gunman from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.