The Valor Award is the highest award given by the Colorado State Patrol. It is presented for “Heroic action and conspicuous valor above and beyond the call of duty, disregarding imminent risk of life or serious bodily injury, thereby exemplifying the highest traditions of the Colorado State Patrol and standing as a credit and inspiration to fellow members.”
This award is given for an act, or series of acts, committed with outstanding courage in a situation that, because of its extraordinary circumstance, placed the member and others in actual physical jeopardy. While exposed to danger, the member must have acted with deliberate intent and while acting must have exercised judgment and performed competent action sufficient to reflect credit and admiration upon himself and the Colorado State Patrol.
Forty two members have been presented the Medal of Valor since its creation in 1974. Prior to 1974, Patrol members of course performed numerous exceptional acts of bravery. Unfortunately, those acts of courage, while building the foundation of the Colorado State Patrol, were not given the recognition they so richly deserve.
Those members who served in the early years helped to develop the tenets of Character, Integrity, Judgment, Loyalty, Courtesy, Honor, and Knowledge that our badge represents.
The following stories are those Colorado State Patrol members who acted with outstanding courage, brought honor and distinction to themselves and to the Colorado State Patrol, and have thus earned the Medal of Valor.
TROOPER JAMES W. AUSTILL
January 19, 1974
Trooper Austill helped chase a vehicle carrying four suspects involved in an armed robbery in Fort Collins. During the pursuit, Trooper Austill’s Patorl car was hit with five shots fired by the suspects. Two of the shots went through the windshield and resulted in several cuts on Austill’s face and hands. Several times the suspects almost came to a stop over a crest of a hill, hoping Austill would come close enough for a kill. This chase and gunfire went on for 30 miles. The suspects crashed their car into a snow bank and were captured shortly thereafter by Trooper Austill.
TROOPER GEORGE A. CHAVEZ
June 7, 1974
Trooper Chavez stopped a motorist for a safety inspection violation 10 miles east of Salida on Colorado 50. The motorist said he did not have his registration and at the same time came up with a gun in his left hand. The motorist took the Chavez’s pistol, forced him to slide into the driver’s seat and across to the passenger side. The motorist instructed Chavez to handcuff himself, but during the procedure, Chavez was able to disarm the motorist. During the struggle a gun held by the motorist went off, a bullet striking Chavez in the hand and shoulder. After handcuffing the motorist, Trooper Chavez bleeding profusely, was able to secure help from a nearby highway department employee.
TROOPER PAUL D. MADRID
May 4, 1975
Trooper Madrid was working in the Blende area east of Pueblo when he was notified of a chase heading his way. Approximately one minute later, he saw a brown Chevrolet pickup chased by a Pueblo Police car. He pulled in behind the police car, which then passed the pickup to box it in. The pickup suddenly stopped, the driver exited the vehicle, took two or three steps, and pointed a pistol at the driver of the Police car. The suspect then said if the police officer did not back off, he would kill him. Madrid yelled for the suspect to drop the gun. The suspect turned and took aim at Trooper Madrid, who then fired one shot striking the suspect.
TROOPER JESSE R.L. SMITH
August 29, 1975
Trooper Smith was dispatched to provide backup assistance for Trooper Joe Cullyford. Cullyford had stopped a stolen vehicle four miles west of Agate on Interstate 70. Of the four people in the vehicle, two were wanted for armed robbery out of Montana, one was an escapee from a mental institution, and the forth, a female, was a runaway. When Cullyford approached the vehicle after Smith arrived, the occupant in the right front seat opened fire. Cullyford dove for cover in front of the vehicle. The suspect started firing through the windshield at Cullyford. Smith returned fire at the gunman who was subsequently killed along with one of the passengers. Neither officer was injured.
LIEUTENANT ROBERT A. WHEELER
May 8, 1976
Lieutenant Wheeler helped rescue a hostage. The drama began with a note left in a Kit Carson restroom by a woman held hostage by two suspected bank robbers from Louisiana. At a roadblock one suspect put a gun under the woman’s ear, and told officers “If you don’t get out of here, I’ll shoot her.” The Troopers backed off. The vehicle was again stopped at the edge of Hugo, and the occupants were ordered out of the car. The driver surrendered, but the other suspect continued to hold the hostage at gunpoint. Wheeler disarmed himself and offered to the hostage’s place. The end result was that a pack set was given to the gunman, and he started west. He was eventually shot and killed by an FBI agent.
TROOPER WILLIAM E. HAMMONS
May 18, 1976
Trooper Hammons was dispatched t a rest area south of Fort Collins on Interstate 25 to investigate a possible drunken driver. Hammons found a Larimer County Deputy already on scene. Both officers approached the suspect’s car and asked the driver to step out of the vehicle for a roadside sobriety test. Without warning, the driver pulled a gun and fired one shot in the direction of the officers. Hammons yelled, “Hold it.” When the suspect failed to obey his command, Hammons shot the suspect twice, wounding him in the hand and jaw. The suspect survived and was sentenced to a lengthy prison term. At the time of the stop, the suspect was wanted on three felony warrants out of Phoenix, Arizona.
TROOPER TIMMIE L. LITTLEJOHN
July 31, 1976
Trooper Littlejohn was sent to Drake to stop all westbound traffic because of a mudslide in the Big Thompson Canyon. He soon had 75 people milling around arguing to proceed. One family was very insistent on going a few miles up the road to the Waltonia Hotel. He stood firm and didn’t let them go, which probably saved their lives since the motel was swept away in the flash flood. He guided a mother trapped in a house to safety. He then rescued an elderly man stuck in a jeep and kept him from walking in the water to look for his wife. When isolated by the destroyed highways, he continued his rescue efforts of the people stranded in the canyon.
TROOPER BILL MILLER
July 31, 1976
Trooper Miller was on routine patrol around Drake when he was dispatched to investigate a rockslide four miles east of Estes Park. Shortly after he arrived, a 30 foot wall of water washed across the road some distance away. Realizing the urgency of the situation and the severity of the storm, he helped people move to higher ground. When his Patrol car became disabled, he joined a Sheriff’s officer in warning people of the impending danger and helped care for the injured.
SERGEANT W. HUGH PURDY
July 31, 1976
Sergeant Purdy, during the evening of the Big Thompson Flood, gave his life in the preservation of the lives of others. He warned of the wall of water coming down the Big Thompson Canyon, giving them time to get out of the way before they were overtaken by the disaster. His early decision to turn cars around at the Narrows probably saved the lives of the Troopers and those stopped there. He kept driving into imminent peril because he believed two of his officers were in danger and that he must warn the public of the flash flood. As he raced through the canyon, his last radio message was to begin evacuation further down due to the immense torrent. His award was presented posthumously to his wife and children.
TROOPER DAVID E. HAVENS
May 29, 1977
Trooper Havens was patrolling Arapahoe Road with Cadet Ian Smith when he clocked a speeding car. The vehicle did not stop in response to Haven’s overhead lights, so he pulled along to the left side of the car to get the driver’s attention. It was then that a bullet from a high powered rifle penetrated the right front door of the Patrol car. One fragment struck Cadet Smith in the stomach and another struck Havens in the leg. As Havens continued the pursuit from behind, he ascertained that Cadet Smith was not seriously injured, then fired several rounds at the fleeing vehicle. The pursuit continued north of Colorado Boulevard where the fleeing car was involved in a crash. Trooper Havens stayed at the scene and assisted in the arrest and investigation.
TROOPER ANTHONY MATTIE
November 11, 1978
Trooper Mattie stopped a vehicle for speeding five miles north of Walsenburg. The driver shot at Mattie after he approached the car and asked for registration. One of the bullets hit Mattie in the left forearm. He took cover, returned to his Patrol car, and pursued the vehicle Northbound. He broadcasted a description of the vehicle as he continued his pursuit. Mattie again came under fire from the car, but this time by a high powered rifle. The suspects escaped at the time but were arrested the next day. They were wanted for murdering an elderly lady in Commerce City.
TROOPER MICAHEL LEDERHAUSE
May 22, 1980
Trooper Lederhause stopped a suspected stolen vehicle westbound on Interstate 70, around midnight. The driver started to exit the car with a .44 magnum which he aimed at Lederhause. Lederhause lunged at the driver at knocked him off balance. The subject staggered into the right traffic lane, regained his balance, and again aimed the weapon at Lederhause. By this point Lederhause had already drawn his weapon and then fired four shots which disabled the armed suspect. The suspect was wanted on a felony warrant. Two hitchhikers in the car had $1000 in stolen travelers checks on their persons.
TROOPER JOHN M. TRAMMEL
October 10, 1980
Trooper Trammel set up a roadblock northbound on Interstate 25 when alerted by New Mexico State Police of two bank robbers armed with a pistol and a sawed-off shotgun. When the suspect vehicle refused to stop and proceeded north at a high speed. Trammel began pursuit. The suspect’s vehicle ran off Interstate 25 and collided with a fence and a rock wall. One suspect came out of the car firing at Trammel while the other disengaged the vehicle from the fence and prepared to flee toward a heavily populated area. Trammel returned fire with a shotgun, killing the two highly dangerous fugitives.
TROOPER CONRAD FISHER
November 14, 1981
Trooper Fisher investigated an accident in which eight people were killed when two trucks, one a gasoline tanker, collided 18 miles west of Canon City on Colorado 50. Burning fuel quickly spread over a large area. Over 100 yards of highway and 300 yards of mountainside were covered with liquid fire. Fisher ran through the flames checking for injuries and fatalities. He obtained immediate transportation for the injured and attempted to rescue people injured in the fire and explosion. His extreme exposure to the flames was evident by the burnt markings on his pants and boots and by eyewitness accounts.
TROOPER DONALD A. VIGIL
March 20, 1982
A gunman fired shots and had taken hostages at a Blende grocery store, and the sheriff’s department had called for assistance. The suspect could be clearly seen holding an automatic pistol to the head of the check-out clerk. Trooper Vigil was stationed at the rear of the door along with another trooper as protection for the sheriff’s officers who had crept into the store. The gunman ignored numerous shouts to surrender and walked out the front door towards Vigil’s station. When the gunman was within 15 feet of Vigil, he raised his weapon. Just then the sheriff stepped from the door and fired two shots at the suspect. Vigil heard the gunshots and saw the gunman’s weapon pointed at him and the other trooper. Vigil fired one shot, mortally wounding the suspect.
LIEUTENANT WALTER D. SANBURG
March 28, 1982
Lieutenant Sanburg received a call from dispatch, shortly before midnight, reporting a berserk gunman. The gunman had shot two Durango police officers, wounded one local resident, and killed another. At the scene, Sanburg rescued the wounded Durango police officer and the Durango resident with the aid of an ambulance attendant, while under the threat of the gunman’s fire. After the sniper escaped into the darkness, Sanburg helped trail him through the mountains. The suspect esaped that evening but was arrested four days later near Pagosa Springs. If not for the actions of Sanburg, the wounded officer and civilian would have probably died of their injuries.
TROOPER GARY GORDON
April 26, 1986
Trooper Gordon was patrolling south of Colorado Springs on Interstate 25 when he saw a Toyota pickup southbound in the northbound lanes. He caught up to it just as the pickup struck a bridge guardrail. A portion of the guardrail penetrated the pickup, and it immediately caught fire. Both doors were jammed in with the driver trapped inside. Smoke was pouring into the driver’s compartment and flames were shooting out from underneath the pickup. Gordon finally jerked the passenger door hard enough to get his fingers inside the top door jam. He then broke the passenger window and physically bent the door frame down. He pulled the driver out of the pickup and carried him to safety just as the truck became completely engulfed in flames and was totally destroyed.
TROOPER BRUCE SHEETZ
June 17, 1986
Trooper Sheetz was boating with some friends at the Blue Mesa reservoir when a thunderstorm approached. As they docked, they saw a fishing boat capsize in the storm. The thunderstorm was in full force as Sheetz maneuvered his boat next to the capsized boat and tied a rope to it to tow the boat to shore. After an unsuccessful attempt, Sheetz positioned his boat next to the fishing boat, and they pulled an elderly couple into Sheetz’ boat. The couple was taken to shore. Sheetz was unable to restart his boat and decided to swim back out to the capsized boat to rescue the second couple. He stabilized the couple while another man took a rope tied to the boat and pulled it to shore.
TROOPER JAMES MACHESKY
TROOPER TOBY TAYLOR
TROOPER SHERMAN KENNELL
August 1, 1986
Trooper Don Sheppard and Trooper Joe Martinez were patrolling in separate vehicles when Sheppard called Martinez and advised him he was going to stop a vehicle for weaving north of Dolores. Trooper Martinez responded for backup. Sheppard pulled the car over and spotted the barrel and stock of a shotgun as the driver exited the vehicle. Sheppard ran back to Martinez’s Patrol car as the driver fired a round at the windshield of Sheppard’s car. The driver then sped off southbound with the two officers in pursuit. The suspect then entered Dolores and stopped while Troopers Machesky, Taylor and Kennell responded. The suspect fired at Taylor, striking the Patrol car’s grill, hood and driver’s side spotlight. Simultaneously, the Troopers began firing. As the suspect slumped over in the front seat of his vehicles, the firing then stopped. The autopsy showed a blood alcohol content of .24.
TROOPER DAVID HARPER
December 30, 1986
Trooper Sam Mitchell stopped a vehicle described in a REDDI (Report Every Drunken Driver Immediately) report, southbound on Colorado 199. A male exited the vehicle with a shotgun alongside his leg. Mitchell ordered the subject to drop his weapon, but the suspect got back into his vehicle and headed west on Interstate 70. Near the Loveland Basin Ski entrance, the suspect stopped and as immediately blocked in by Patrol cars. The suspect exited and approached Mitchell who had taken cover behind his Patrol car. Mitchell could not fire because of the people in his line of fire. The suspect then turned and walked a few steps toward Trooper Harper. The suspect then raised his shotgun and pointed it at Harper and several of the skiers behind him. Harper, having a clear path, fired one round, ending the situation.
TROOPER JAMES HARPER
March 13, 1987
Two men overpowered a jailer from the Tiera Amarilla jail, beat him severely, and then escaped. Trooper Harper caught up with them three miles south of La Jara. One mile north of La Jara, the passenger aimed a rifle at Harper, who then swerved his Patrol car side to side and lowered himself to throw off the suspect’s aim. Two miles south of Estrella, Harper saw a cloud of smoke and observed the car driving on the shoulder and into the brush. One suspect partially raised himself and advanced towards Harper with the rifle pointed at him. Harper twice ordered the suspect to drop the rifle and surrender. His response was to advance towards Harper, still pointing the rifle. The third time the suspect’s rifle barrel came up, Harper fired one round and the suspect fell near the front of the stolen vehicle. The suspect died at the scene.
TROOPER JOE COPLEY
April 11, 1988
A wanted felon from Washington was spotted by Sterling Police officers, initiating a pursuit that also involved Trooper Copley. As the pursuit continued toward the town of Sterling, it became obvious the car was not going to stop. The street they were on had a sharp right hand curve with a grade school on the left. At the time of the pursuit, the school playground was filled with children. Trooper Copley decided to do a moving roadblock by overtaking the car at 97 MPH and then blocking its path. The suspect tried twice to move to the left, the second time striking a raised median and then colliding with the Patrol car. The Patrol car went out of control and into a ditch. The fleeing vehicle continued on for 750 feet, went across the median, across two opposing lanes, rolled one time stopping in an irrigation ditch. The suspect later died as a result of their injuries, while the passenger was not seriously injured and was placed into custody.
TROOPER FRITS BOSS
May 5, 1988
Trooper Boss was leaving a gas station and was told by several children that there was a knife fight in progress in a nearby parking lot. He pulled into the parking lot and observed several juveniles around a white van. As he got out of his vehicle and approached the van he was told a suspect was inside. He then entered the cargo door of the van and ordered the suspect to drop the knife in his left hand. The suspect turned and attempted to start the van with his right hand, then pivoted in his seat and attempted to cut Boss with the knife. Boss was finally able to grab the suspect’s left hand and take the knife away. Boss received a laceration to his left hand.
TROOPER ANTHONY MATTIE
December 29, 1990
Trooper Mattie became involved in a bank robbery/hostage situation in Trinidad. Although he was off-duty, he responded to the scene, utilizing his hostage negotiation training, and acted quickly in stabilizing and extremely dangerous and life threatening situation. After almost three hours of negotiations, Trooper Mattie established such a rapport with the robber that he would only surrender to him. Mattie went into the bank, took the weapon from the robber, and placed him under arrest.
SERGEANT JOHN T. MITCHELL
TROOPER TERRY TAYLOR
February 2, 1991
Sergeant Mitchell was riding with Trooper Taylor when they stopped a car two miles south of Delta on Colorado 50. When Taylor asked the driver to exit the car, he abruptly reached under a sleeping bag on the front seat and secured a Ruger .44 Magnum pistol. Taylor grabbed the driver’s hands in an effort to keep him from raising the weapon. As Taylor and the driver struggled for control, the weapon discharged, striking the dash of the car. Simultaneously, Mitchell drew his weapon and shouted a warning for the driver to drop the gun. When he didn’t comply, Mitchell shot the driver in the upper right shoulder and the driver released the weapon.
TROOPER RANDY GODSEY
April 7, 1992
Trooper Godsey observed a pickup truck roll over and burst into flames. He grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to put out the fire. Suddenly a young woman pushed her head out the passenger side window and pleaded for Godsey to help her. She was totally engulfed in flames. He immediately attempted to pull her from the blazing vehicle which was burning out of control. Godsey was only able to pull her a short way out when she became stuck. Godsey’s hand, arm, and boots were on fire, but he extinguished the flames consuming he and the young woman. Godsey then entered the raging inferno in a second attempt to extricate the woman. Two bystanders came forward to assist him, and together were able to pull the woman out of the vehicle.
CAPTAIN WILLIAM WOLFE
September 6, 1992
Captain Wolfe was in command of a sobriety checkpoint near the Trinidad city limits on southbound Interstate 25. A vehicle entered the area at a high rate of speed and continued to accelerate as it approached the checkpoint. Wolfe shouted a warning to others. Frantically he waved the reflective sign and flashlight, then ran into the path of the oncoming vehicle. At the last second he leapt aside, striking the windshield with the sign. The vehicle grazed him, knocking him into the median. The driver slowed and swerved, briefly skidding before striking one of the cars in the checkpoint. The driver had been drinking and was charged with four counts of vehicular assault. Wolfe’s efforts slowed the vehicle and prevented more serious injuries or fatalities.
TROOPER CLAUDE EDENS
February 8, 1994
Trooper Edens heard a Weld County deputy call for assistance regarding a man with a gun. Edens was informed the suspect was holding a gun to his head and threatening suicide. The suspect was distraught over marital problems. Edens knew the suspect, approached his vehicle, and was told to back off. Edens removed his weapon and engaged the suspect in conversation. Since it was cold out, Trooper Edens suggested it would be easier to talk if they sat in the suspect’s truck. The suspect held his 9mm pistol cocked in his left hand against his chest and a picture of his wife in his right hand. For the next 45 minutes Edens negotiated with the suspect, and finally succeeded in disarming the man and placing him under arrest.
MS. ELIZABETH “BETH” KIMZEY
June 11, 1994
A semi-truck, westbound on Interstate 70, ran off the right side of the road and collided with the Wolcott overpass guardrail. The collisions ruptured the right fuel tank and immediately caught fire. Beth Kimzey, also westbound, pulled off on the shoulder in front of the truck. The driver exited the truck, got his fire extinguisher, and went around to the right side of the vehicle. The driver fell over the guardrail and eight to 10 feet down the side. He suffered a broken back and was dazed by his fall. Due to the spreading fuel the truck was engulfed in flames and the area where the driver had fallen was starting to burn. Burning debris from the truck and trailer began to fall around him as well. Disregarding her own personal safety, Ms. Kimzey ran down the embankment to the injured driver, and helped him get up and out of danger. Soon the area where the driver had fallen became enveloped in flames. Ms. Kimzey then asked what kind of materials were being hauled to determine a possible explosion and also directed traffic until a Trooper had arrived. Had it not been for her immediate actions the driver most certainly would have been killed or seriously injured. Ms. Kimzey’s actions met the expectations of a well trained uniformed member, yet the fact remains she was a civilian employee.
TECHNICIAN JOE LEAL
April 3, 1995
Technician Leal was working east of Pueblo, on Colorado 50, when he heard a sheriff’s radio report of a female with a knife. Since he was close, he responded and upon arrival he found the Principal of a Junior High School talking to two girls in the yard of a private residence. One of the girls held a 13 inch butcher knife in her right hand to the throat of the other girl. Several requests from Technician Leal to drop the knife were refused. The suspect was very agitated and said she like hurting other people and had tried to kill another girl who had gotten away. While pointing the knife at Technician Leal, she was distracted by conversation with a sheriff’s deputy who had arrived. While her attention was focused on the other officer, Technician Leal grabbed the suspect and disarmed her. Due to the suspect’s mental state and ability to hurt the other girl or herself, Technician Leal’s actions defused a hostile situation and averted a calamity.
TROOPER J.K. BEAUCHAMP
May 14, 1996
Canadian Police Officer Michael Tremblay was traveling along Ten Mile Creek when he had an accident, causing his truck and trailer to go into the river. Trooper Beauchamp arrived promptly on scene, and found Mr. Tremblay still in the water. With no hesitation, Trooper Beauchamp jumped into the river and threw the driver a rope. As Police Officer Tremblay stated, “His quickness and courage saved my life,” Trooper Beauchamp when finding out the driver was far from home, invited him to his house and then to town to settle his situation.
TROOPER MICHAEL BALENTI
September 28, 1996
At approximately 1554 hours the Colorado State Patrol was asked to provide assistance to the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office. A subject had violated a restraining order and had barricaded himself into the Chimney Rock Café 20 miles west of Pagosa Springs. Troopers Balenti, Cruz and Downey responded and arrived at the scene at 1612 hours, followed up by personnel of the Archuleta Sheriff’s Office and Pagosa Springs Police Department. After several minutes of negotiations the subject exited the café with a loaded high powered rifle. Under sheriff Hebert continued to try to talk the man down, but the subject stated he would shoot if the under sheriff did anything but talk. While the Under sheriff kept the subject occupied, Trooper Balenti was able to subdue and the disarm the suspect. Trooper Balenti exercised outstanding courage and control in a very volatile situation, bringing the situation to a safe end. Because of his actions, no one was injured during the subject’s apprehension, no shots were fired, and the subject was taken into custody without further incident.
TROOPER PENELOPE BELMONT
February 1, 1998
On February 1, 1998 at 0230 hours Trooper Penelope Belmont assisted her fellow troopers with a pursuit that ended on Pecos Street at Colorado Highway 76. This incident resulted in a traffic accident that caused the vehicle to overturn and come to a rest on its top. Because of the accident the gas line was severed and tank ruptured. The vehicle began to burn which caused the interior to rapidly fill with smoke. Two occupants remained in the vehicle and were unable to exit because of injuries and locked/damaged doors. Trooper Belmont made several unsuccessful attempts to open the doors of the vehicle and had to break out the rear driver’s side window with her baton. She then unlocked the passenger’s door and removed the passenger who was pinned between the seat and dashboard. The driver was unconscious and suspended by his shoulder harness that was cutting into his throat. His body was pinned between the seat and dashboard of the vehicle too. Trooper Belmont tried unsuccessfully to extricate the driver. Another Trooper advised that the vehicle was continuing to burn and that it was perched on an embankment of a ditch that could slide down anytime. Trooper Belmont then cut the shoulder harness with her knife. Another Trooper assisted by pushing the driver’s seat into a reclining position, allowing Trooper Belmont to assess the driver was not breathing and had no pulse. Due to the limited are she began to massage his sternum area that resulted in the driver starting to breathe on his own. The driver was transported to a local hospital where he survived and was released at a later date. It should be noted that a Deputy from Adams County Sheriff’s Department stated it took approximately six fire extinguishers in an attempt to extinguish the fire, but it kept reigniting due to the ruptured gas line. The Deputy advised that his main concern was Trooper Belmont’s safety and the vehicle possibly exploding or become totally engulfed in flames.
CAPTAIN GARY MYERS
December 8, 1998
At approximately 8:50 a.m., on December 8, 1998, a Colorado Department of Transportation employee rushed into the Greeley CSP office and told the CSP staff that there was a man with a gun in the next building. Captain Myers exited the State Patrol office and from the front step he saw a male with a gun who had just exited the front door of the CDOT building located next to the Patrol office. Captain Myers drew his weapon and standing in plain view, ordered the subject to drop his gun several times. The subject would not surrender his gun and fired two shots at Captain Myers. Captain Myers returned fire and took cover behind a small concrete support at the front entry to the CSP office. Captain Myers and the subject were approximately 85 feet apart at this time. Shots were exchanged with the subject being hit several times, but continuing to advance towards Captain Myers. As the subject looked Captain Myers in the eye and repeatedly said, “do your duty, shoot me,” Captain Myers again ordered him to drop his gun. The subject opened fire again and Captain Myers returned fire, fatally wounding the subject. At the time the subject was confronted by Captain Myers, he had just shot two CDOT employees and was looking for one to four more. Captain Myers actions were exemplary; he followed all State Patrol policies and procedures and made every attempt possible to have the subject surrender his weapon.
TROOPER STEVEN K. MAESTAS
TROOPER GARY J. STRIEWSKI
TROOPER DENNIS E. WILDER
December 4, 2000
On December 4, 2000 at about 10:00 p.m., Troopers Maestas, Striewski and Wilder became the lead officers in pursuit of two suspects wanted for assault and were known to be armed and dangerous. The fleeing vehicle was southbound on Interstate 25 at Interstate 76. At about the Speer Boulevard exit, the passenger in the fleeing vehicle began firing an automatic rifle at the Troopers, blowing out the rear window of the fleeing vehicle. The shooter then used a shotgun and began firing again at the Troopers. Trooper Wilder’s driver’s side window was blown out, embedding glass in his face, arm, and eye. All three Troopers took evasive action, driving three-abreast and weaving to avoid the gunfire as the pursuit continued. The shooting continued for about six more miles to the Eighth Avenue exit where Trooper Wilder took the opportunity to perform a tactical vehicle intervention, causing the fleeing vehicle to spin out of control. The vehicle became tangled in a fence. The suspects remained in the vehicle, and Trooper Striewski and Maestas then rushed the vehicle and pulled the suspects out, receiving minor injuries.
These officers while repeatedly being exposed to automatic and shotgun fire maintained their positions. Troopers Maestas, Striewksi, and Wilder displayed extraordinary judgment and competency in capturing these felons with nothing more than slight injuries occurring to anyone involved. Trooper Wilder’s vehicle was hit with three rounds, and Trooper Maestas’ vehicle was hit with two rounds. There were about 60 spent cartridges in the suspects’ vehicle. Trooper Maestas, Striewski and Wilder are commended for their diligence, persistence and resourcefulness with this pursuit.
TECHNICIAN JAY HEMPHILL
July 16, 2007
On July 16, 2007, shortly before 2:00 pm, Aaron Snyder entered the west door of the State Capitol Building. Within five minutes he entered the temporary offices of Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. Snyder was dressed in a black tuxedo and was carrying Remington Hearing Protection in his left hand. He stated, “I am the Emperor and I am here to take over the State of Colorado.” Colorado State Patrol Technician Jay Hemphill, assigned to protect the Governor, intercepted Snyder in the reception area of the office, engaged him in conversation, and within a minute got him back outside the door. Technician Hemphill continued to talk with Snyder for approximately three more minutes, standing at arm’s length directly in front of the glass door to the Governor’s Office. During their discussion Snyder’s comments became challenging, concerning Technician Hemphill to make a 10-78 emergency alert from his radio (emergency – officer needs help). Snyder unexpectedly moved back his tuxedo coat revealing a large firearm protruding from his right-pants pocket. In concert with this action he stated, “No police are going to stop me.” Technician Hemphill dropped the pen and notebook he was holding, drawing his service weapon. As Snyder started moving toward him Technician Hemphill commanded loudly, “Stop – State Patrol – or I will kill you!” Snyder ignored the commands and continued to move toward Technician Hemphill. Technician Hemphill fired four shots. Snyder fell backward, just to the right of the door of the Governor’s Office, dying at the scene.
TROOPER DANIEL HALEY
November 27, 2010
On November 27, 2010 at approximately 4:00pm Trooper Daniel Haley was with his family at the Greeley Family FunPlex, a recreation center, when he saw three boys standing on ice covering a nearby pond. Trooper Haley suddenly saw one of the boys, 10 year old Brenndan Daviet, fall through the ice about 20 yards from shore. Trooper Haley immediately ran out to the pond and with great courage, began low crawling across the ice towards Brenndan. Trooper Haley was dressed in shorts, running shoes, a long sleeve t-shirt and down vest, adequate clothing for an unseasonably warm day, but not for exposure to freezing water. As he continued to crawl across the ice his concern was for Brenndan and for the other two boys who fortunately had not fallen through. As the other boys heeded his commands to slowly back away towards shore, the ice beneath Trooper Haley broke through as well, submerging him into the freezing water. Trooper Haley managed to reach Brenndan and found him to still be buoyant and able to maneuver himself with little assistance. However, as they moved to shore Brenndan’s clothing began to drag him under water. According to Trooper Haley’s wife Kirstin, a nurse at a local hospital, Brenndan went under water at least five times. Trooper Haley grabbed Brenndan and began to pull him to shore, yet Brenndan began to panic and struggle, nearly pulling both of them underwater! Once they reached the ice shelf, Trooper Haley could not push Brenndan or himself on top of the ice and began breaking the ice with his elbows while moving closer to shore.
Ultimately, Trooper Haley was able to get Brenndan back on the ice and onto shore. By this point Brenndan had been in the water for nearly five minutes and was hypothermic. While Kirstin began treating Brenndan for hypothermia, it took a few more minutes for Trooper Haley to pull himself onto the ice shelf. Trooper Haley spent nearly 10 minutes in the icy water as well.
Both Brenndan and Trooper Haley were taken to North Colorado Medical Center and treated for hypothermia, and both have since recovered. It is clear that Trooper Haley’s clear, calm, and decisive actions saved the life of Brenndan and possibly the other two boys on the ice. Trooper Haley later said he believed that delaying action would result in tragedy, yet he also understood the consequences of his actions. Responding officers from the Greeley Police Department and EMS personnel credit Trooper Haley with saving Brenndan’s life. As a result of Trooper Haley’s actions on November 27, 2010, he is hereby awarded with the Colorado State Patrol Medal of Valor.