The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Police Officer III Andrew Taylor of the Los Angeles Police Department as its Officer of the Month for June 2008.
On the evening of January 21, 2007, two young Los Angeles women invited three men back to their family's apartment, where an all-night party ensued. Early the next morning after repeatedly being asked to leave, the three men became threatening and the young women's frightened parents had no choice but to call the police. Officers from the Rampart Area division, including Officer Andrew Taylor, responded to the possible assault with a deadly weapon call and were greeted at the scene by the parents who gave them the necessary permission to enter their premises.
With a better understanding of the possible volatile situation at hand, officers called for backup. When sufficient officers were on scene and briefed, they entered the building. Entering the apartment, the officers found the two young women in the living room. They explained that the three men were in a back bedroom, but refused to come out or vacate the apartment.
Approaching the back area with caution, officers ordered the men to come out of the bedroom. After a minute, the door opened and two men appeared and began cooperating with the police.
The third man became verbally belligerent and, at first, refused to leave the apartment or cooperate in any fashion. Cool heads prevailed; the officers continued speaking with the third man who finally calmed down, just enough for him to be searched and handcuffed by a young rookie. As he was still verbally abusive, the decision was made to transport him separately.
Officer Taylor escorted the detainee outside of the apartment into the building's narrow hallway. As they headed for the stairwell, the suspect produced a .357 magnum handgun from a rear pocket or waistband and began firing awkwardly at Officer Taylor from a mere few feet away. The first round struck Officer Taylor's sidearm, shattering the handle of the gun. A second round hit Officer Taylor's lower chest, but was stopped by his bullet resistant vest. A third round struck his badge and deflected up, while a fourth round struck him in the upper right portion of his chest, missing his vest and causing a straight-through wound. The four shots and struggle took only seconds.
Although struck four times at close range with a high caliber weapon, Officer Taylor immediately engaged the suspect. As his own weapon had been rendered useless, Taylor lunged at the suspect in an attempt to disarm him. His primary concern was the safety of the residents in the other apartments within the complex. Taylor's greatest fear was that someone would open an apartment door and become an innocent victim at the hands of the gunman.
As they wrestled for control of the handgun, the suspect continued his verbal and physical assault on Officer Taylor, threatening that he would kill him before being taken into custody. Suffering from the pain of three shots to the chest, Officer Taylor continued to wrestle with the suspect until fellow officers were able to come to his aid. The officers shot and killed the suspect while Officer Taylor was still tangled up with him.
Officer Taylor and his wife had developed a plan should anything like this happen to him while on duty. Although reeling from the incident, Officer Taylor had the presence of mind to tell the other officers what had occurred and instructed the officers how to notify his wife. He was transported by ambulance to Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he was treated for the gunshot wound to his upper chest and a bruised lung, caused by the round that struck his vest. He was kept overnight for observation and released the next day. Officer Taylor returned to full duty two months after the incident.
There is little doubt that Officer Taylor is alive today because his body armor did what it was intended to do. That morning, he adopted a new lucky number when he became the 997th member of the Second Chance Armor, Inc. SAVES Club.
As a 12-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Taylor has worked in several divisions of the department including patrol, the gang unit, and has worked with the Detectives branch. He has received more than 80 departmental commendations throughout the course of his career. He served with the United States Marine Corp and is a veteran of Desert Storm. Officer Andrew Taylor is married and has two children.
Located in the nation's capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.