San Antonio Police Officer Pedro Garcia saved the life of one critically wounded officer and helped rescue another in a shootout in the city's South Side last September. For his quick thinking and daring action, the 33-year-old father of two has been named 2009 Police Officer of the Year by Parade Magazine and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He and 12 other officers will be honored Oct. 6 at the IACP's annual convention in Denver.
Officer Garcia and his partner were called to the scene after a suspect opened fire on three officers trying to arrest him for domestic violence. After providing cover so another officer could be rescued, Garcia dodged gunfire to reach Officer Brandy Roell, 30, who was just one month out of the cadet academy and wounded with a gunshot to the back.
"I checked her stomach and was holding some of her intestines," Garcia recalls in a Parade article. "I had to get her out of there."
But the officers were hemmed in by a locked fence with spikes on top. Garcia called to another officer to ram the gate with a patrol car, forcing it open. Then — completely exposed to fire from the gunman, who was wielding an assault rifle — Garcia carried Roell over his shoulder to a waiting patrol car.
"I was thinking he could shoot me any time," Garcia recalls. He insists that credit for the rescues belongs to all of the officers who responded to the scene of the six-hour siege, which ended when the gunman took his own life.
In addition to Garcia, twelve other officers will receive honorable mention in the Oct. 4 issue of Parade: Special Agent Keith Bishop of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Houston; Trooper Kurt Johnson of the Virginia State Police; Officer Larry Marrero of the Miami Beach Police; Detective John Hamlett of the Greenville, S.C. Police; Special Agent Marvin F. Burgos of the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of Inspector General in Washington, DC; Officer Stephen T. Grieser of the Dublin (Ga.) Police Department; Cpl. Jeffery D. Shriner of the New Castle (Del.) Police Department; Patrol Officer James Simone of the Cleveland Division of Police; Agent Richard Birch and Agent David Weeks of the West Palm Beach, Fla., Police Department and Detective Karla F. Heine and Detective Sgt. Justin Barlow of the Columbia (Ill.) Police Department.
The Police Service Awards were established by Parade and IACP in 1966 to focus attention on the dedicated men and women of our nation¹s police force. They are given for specific acts of valor, consistent service above and beyond the call of duty, development of innovative programs and significant service to the community apart from police work.