VACP announces Valor Awards recipients

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Photo Credit: niroworld

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation have honored 20 Virginia law enforcement officers from eight agencies, and two police K-9s, with the Association’s Award for Valor.

The awards were presented this week during the Awards Banquet at the VACP 94th Annual Conference, held this year at the Hilton Norfolk the Main in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Award for Valor recognizes a law enforcement officer who, in the line of duty, performs an act of extraordinary heroism while engaged with an adversary at imminent personal risk.

Officers receiving the 2019 Awards for Valor are:

Charlottesville Police Department: Corporal Christopher Huber

On September 8, 2018, shortly after 10 PM, Corporal Chris Huber and several other Charlottesville Police officers were busy investigating a call of shots fired. A resident told Corporal Huber that the person suspected of firing the shots was inside an apartment. Huber went to that location and entered the apartment with the residents’ consent. Corporal Huber saw a person emerge from the kitchen area that he immediately knew to be the suspect, and he knew that the suspect was wanted for arrest on outstanding warrants. Armed with a handgun, the suspect shot in Huber’s direction and Huber returned fire. Huber believed that a shot grazed his torso, but later learned he took a direct shot into his left side. His bulletproof vest likely saved his life, or at least prevented serious injury. Corporal Huber maintained a remarkable awareness despite suffering a laceration and significant bruising from the bullet striking his vest. Huber knew that the suspect likely was seriously injured in the gunfire exchange. Huber also knew that the suspect was still armed and posed a clear danger to his safety and that of his fellow officers. After efforts were made to secure the injured suspect’s weapon, Corporal Huber and other officers began to render aid to the suspect.

After Huber sustained significant injury, he performed his duties with the highest regard to the safety and well-being of the man who delivered that injury. This act of selflessness and bravery is a tribute to Corporal Huber’s character and his dedication to the Charlottesville Police Department and to his profession, as well as his unyielding commitment to those he serves. It is our honor to present Charlottesville Police Corporal Christopher Huber with the 2019 VACP Award for Valor.

Fredericksburg Police Department: Officer David Cabrera

On July 23, 2018, Fredericksburg Police officers responded to a report of a domestic disturbance. Officer David Cabrera was the first to arrive at the residence. Just seconds after knocking on the front door, a male quickly swung open the storm door and stabbed Officer Cabrera with a box cutter-style knife in his face and neck.

Officer Cabrera withdrew from the residence as the offender exclaimed obscenities and flaunted his weapon. In fear for his life, Officer Cabrera fired at the suspect, causing the offender to retreat into the residence.

After relocating to a safe place, Officer Cabrera attempted numerous times to contact the E-911 Communications Center by radio. He was unable to because the offender’s knife had struck the radio cord. Remaining calm, Officer Cabrera activated his emergency alert button and attempted to call the communications center using his cell phone. Meanwhile he was assessing his wounds, assessing his surroundings, and maintaining a close watch on the residence to ensure his safety and the safety of the neighbors.

Additional units were dispatched to the incident when the E-911 communications center was unable to reach Officer Cabrera by radio. A fire marshal was the first to arrive and rendered aid to Officer Cabrera. Officer Cabrera was rushed to Mary Washington Hospital where he was treated and released later that evening.

Several hours after the incident began, the offender was located walking a short distance from the residence and taken into custody without incident. He was treated for minor injuries.

Officer Cabrera showed impressive valor, courage, and commitment during the life-threatening incident. Officer Cabrera speaks about his experience to recruits at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Academy as part of the Officer Survival course. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is pleased to present Fredericksburg Police Officer David Cabrera with the 2019 Award for Valor.

Lynchburg Police Department

  • Officer Nick Kirby
  • Officer Roy Young
  • Officer Miles Davis
  • Officer Nathan Godsie
  • Officer Thomas Sawyer
  • With K9 Arko

On October 6, 2018, Lynchburg Police Officer Nick Kirby and Officer Miles Davis were dispatched to a resident for a subject brandishing a firearm. Both officers quickly located the suspect vehicle. They soon realized that there was also an alert out for the vehicle out of Campbell County and that the driver was a suspect in a homicide. Both officers attempted to initiate a felony stop on the vehicle just as Officer Roy Young joined them on Campbell Avenue

The driver of the vehicle refused to stop and began to accelerate at a high rate of speed. The officers pursued the vehicle into Campbell County reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph. The driver continued traveling at a high rate of speed before crashing his vehicle into the woods.

The suspect immediately opened fire on the officers as they came to a stop behind him. Officers Kirby, Davis and Young exited their vehicles and began to return fire. Officers Nathan Godsie and Thomas Sawyer arrived on scene just as shots were being fired. During the exchange of gunfire, Officer Kirby was struck in his right shoulder. Officer Sawyer assisted in moving him out of the line of fire and to a safe position where he could receive first aid.

The suspect stopped firing his weapon and Officer Godsie attempted to communicate with him to determine his position. Once it was determined that he was still in or near his vehicle, Officer Godsie deployed his K9 partner Arko who was able to reach the suspect and apprehend him. Officer Godsie and Officer Young then moved forward to attempt to place the suspect in handcuffs. The suspect had been wounded from the exchange of gunfire but he still began to kick and hit K9 Arko. The officers struggled to gain control of him and were able to place him in in custody. The suspect’s handgun was located on the ground near where he was apprehended by K9 Arko.

The offender was in the process of trying to locate and potentially harm someone else when the Lynchburg police officers intervened and apprehended him. All of the officers – including K9 Arko – showed exceptional bravery and commitment to duty while under fire. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is honored to present these Lynchburg Police Officers – Officer Nick Kirby, Officer Roy Young, Officer Miles Davis, Officer Nathan Godsie, Officer Thomas Sawyer and K-9 Arko – with the 2019 Award for Valor.

Prince William County Police Department

  • Officer John Yenchak
  • Officer Rachel Mynier
  • Officer Evan Jurgensen
  • Officer Nicholas Kelly

On November 4, 2018, Prince William County dispatch received a call for a shooting in progress with injuries. The officers only had vague details about a man holding a gun and bleeding, walking around the yard of a residence. Within a few minutes, Prince William County Officers John Yenchak, Rachel Mynier and Evan Jurgensen arrived on scene, where they soon heard gunshots and retreated to their cruisers for cover. Officer Nicholas Kelly arrived on scene and immediately took gunfire from the shooter, whose whereabouts were still unknown. Officers Jurgensen, Yenchak and Mynier could hear the bullets pinging off Officer Kelly’s cruiser, and began to scan the area for the shooter. Officer Mynier was able to transmit radio traffic warning units of shots being fired and was the one who noticed movement on the rooftop of a Laurel Street residence. Officer Mynier also was able to transmit radio traffic warning incoming units not to come down Laurel Street because of shots being fired down the street. Officer Jurgensen was able to spotlight the roof while retrieving his shotgun from his. Officer Yenchak transmitted the location of the shooter over the radio, who was on a roof with a rifle.

Officers Jurgensen, Yenchak, Mynier and Kelly lost sight of the shooter because he had slid down the backside of the roof and onto a deck. As Officer Yenchak crossed the street to change position behind a pickup truck, he was shot at again. One of the rounds struck him in the vest between his upper shoulder blades.

While other officers were running to their positions, the shooter made his way to the side of the house where Officer Yenchak challenged him. The shooter ignored all of Yenchak’s commands and began shooting at him again. Officer Yenchak returned fire and began to circle the truck as the shooter pursued him. The suspect then drew his attention to Officers Mynier and Jurgensen. Seeing this, Officer Kelly took a chance and left his cover position to come to Officer Yenchak’s aid as they circled to the front of the truck. The shooter then turned back to Officers Kelly and Yenchak. Officer Yenchak fired again, while Jurgensen also fired his shotgun from his position. The suspect was struck several times and went down, ending the threat. Officers Jurgenson and Mynier still feared a possible second shooter, but knew that the suspect needed medical attention. They exposed themselves to harm once again by leaving their cover in order to extract the shooter to a warm zone for medical treatment.

While the shooter was receiving his medical treatment, these officers, along with several others, were able to pull an occupant of the shooter’s residence to safety. The officers continued to secure the scene and looked for potential victims in neighboring houses.

The heroism of each officer to run into a gunfight to help his or her fellow officers, while staying calm and updating communications, is nothing short of courageous. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is pleased to honor Prince William County Police Officer John Yenchak, Officer Rachel Mynier, Officer Evan Jurgensen and Officer Nicholas Kelly with the 2019 Award for Valor.

Suffolk Police Department: Officer Corey Hubbard

On December 5, 2018, officers were dispatched in reference to a shooting. Officers received information that the suspect was still on scene on top of the victim that had been shot. Officer Hubbard had a civilian new hire riding with him. Due to not wanting to expose the rider to the dangers at the scene, Officer Hubbard parked a block away and ran to the residence. Officer Hubbard was the first to arrive on scene, where he encountered several hysterical people inside the residence. Officer Hubbard noticed the suspect kneeling over top of the victim, and both the suspect and victim were struggling for the handgun, Officer Hubbard pointed his service weapon at the suspect and gave several verbal commands to drop the weapon. When the suspect failed to comply, Officer Hubbard approached the suspect, holstered his weapon, subdued the suspect, grabbed the gun, and made the weapon safe.

After a significant physical struggle, Officer Hubbard placed the suspect into custody. Officer Hubbard then turned his attention to the victim who was bleeding profusely from the leg. Officer Hubbard placed his tourniquet on the victim’s upper thigh, significantly reducing the victim’s bleeding. All this was accomplished with three or four hysterical witnesses inside of the residence creating a very chaotic scene. Officer Hubbard was able to make the arrest, render aid, and preserve a crime scene before any other officer could arrive on scene. The VACP is honored to present Suffolk Police Officer Corey Hubbard with the 2019 Award for Valor.

Virginia State Police – Bureau of Criminal Investigations

  • Trooper Austin L. Albright
  • Special Agent Matthew T. D. Hand
  • Trooper Chase S. Autry
  • With K-9 Vader (posthumous)

Having a shift partner in law enforcement is commonplace. But in the Virginia State Police, there is only one kind of full‐time shift partner a Trooper can ever have ‐ the four‐legged shift partner who sheds, drools, never argues, and is relentlessly protective and unconditionally loyal. For Virginia Trooper Austin L. Albright, that shift partner’s name was Vader. Their bond was unyielding and never more so than on August 1, 2018 during the fatal pursuit of and shoot‐out with a Connecticut murder suspect.

On the morning of August 1, 2018, Trooper Albright and Vader were patrolling Interstate 95 in Sussex County. Trooper Albright observed a vehicle occupied by a male and female that started slowing down and then speeding up while traveling in the northbound lane. Trooper Albright pulled in behind and ran the license plate on the vehicle. The vehicle came back as stolen out of Connecticut. Trooper Albright activated his lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop, but the vehicle’s driver refused to stop and sped away. A pursuit was initiated.

Trooper Albright calmly and precisely called the pursuit over the radio, with Vader over his right shoulder not missing a beat. As they traveled at a high rate of speed up I‐95, the suspect driver began shooting at Trooper Albright and Vader. Despite the inherent risk, the trooper never let up and stayed with the stolen vehicle even after being fired upon several more times.

The suspect vehicle continued to flee, exiting the interstate onto rural back roads. Virginia State Police Special Agent Matthew T. D. Hand and Trooper Chase S. Autry joined Trooper Albright in the pursuit of the suspect vehicle. Once off the interstate, the vehicle sped towards a nearby intersection along a residential road. While still being fired on, Trooper Albright seized an opportunity to strike the suspect vehicle, pushing it off the road into the wood line. The three troopers then exited their patrol cars, took cover, and returned fire. The suspect, Tramaine Poole, was shot and killed during the exchange of gunfire. The female passenger was able to exit the vehicle and was not injured. Once the scene was secure and the female was taken into custody, Trooper Albright returned to his patrol vehicle to check on canine Vader. Trooper Albright found that one of the bullets fired by the suspect had penetrated the windshield of his patrol vehicle and fatally struck Vader.

It was later determined that the suspect was “Public Enemy Number One” for the New Haven, Connecticut Police Department. A nationwide manhunt had been underway for Tramaine Marquese Poole, 41, who was considered armed and extremely dangerous, and had an extensive, violent criminal record dating back several decades. He was wanted for shooting to death a 28‐year‐old Connecticut woman in front of her two young children in May 2018 and for the first‐degree shooting of his wife, who survived her injuries. New Haven Police were certain he was headed north on I‐95 to commit at least two more homicides back in Connecticut.

Risk is inherent in the daily responsibilities of a state trooper. There is no such thing as a “routine traffic stop.” But extraordinary troopers committing extraordinary acts of valor for the sole intent of public safety requires one to go above and beyond the call of duty – which is what Virginia Trooper Albright, Special Agent Hand, and Trooper Autry did that day in August. Without hesitation, Trooper Albright, Special Agent Hand, and Trooper Autry utilized their training and valiantly put their own lives at extreme risk in order to protect the public at‐large from an extremely dangerous and potentially deadly individual. We are presenting a posthumous Award for Valor to Trooper Albright in recognition of the line of duty sacrifice of Virginia State Police K-9 Vader. Trooper Albright also will receive a box of dog treats to help in the training of his new K-9, Thunder. In recognition of their valor and selfless service, the Virginia Association is proud to recognize Trooper Austin L. Albright, Special Agent Matthew T. D. Hand, and Trooper Chase S. Autry with the distinguished 2019 VACP Award of Valor.

Virginia State Police – Bureau of Criminal Investigations Richmond

  • Special Agent Martin Kriz
  • Louisa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lt. Robert Hix
  • Deputy Daniel Clore

A Louisa County woman called 911 on May 8, 2017 to report a domestic disturbance at her home. Louisa County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Clore responded to the call. The woman shot at Deputy Clore with a handgun upon his immediate arrival on scene. Deputy Clore took cover and called for backup, and Louisa County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Robert Hix and Virginia State Trooper Martin Kriz arrived on scene. Deputy Clore continued to surveil the scene and provide information to arriving officers.

Trooper Kriz and Lieutenant Hix took cover and gave verbal orders to the woman to drop her weapon. The female suspect refused to comply with Trooper Kriz’ verbal commands, and began firing at Trooper Kriz and Lieutenant Hix. Both Trooper Kriz and Lieutenant Hix fired their agency‐issued patrol rifles at the suspect, resulting in the suspect being shot and gravely wounded.

Trooper Kriz immediately began rendering first aid to the woman in order to control the bleeding until Louisa County Fire and EMS arrived. While rendering first aid, Lieutenant Hix secured the trooper’s firearm. Due to Trooper Kriz’ quick actions in rendering first aid, the female suspect ultimately recovered from her injury. The woman has entered guilty pleas in Louisa County Circuit Court to two counts of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer. Trooper Kriz has since been promoted to Special Agent.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to award the 2019 Award for Valor to Virginia State Police Special Agent Martin Kriz, Louisa County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Robert Hix and Louisa County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Clore.

Virginia State Police – Wytheville Division

  • Trooper Cory W. Martin
  • Wythe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Deputy Jacob Goins

Shortly after midnight on November 14, 2018, a male subject had entered a local hotel in Wythe County and robbed the clerk at gunpoint. The Wythe County Sheriff’s Office responded to the hotel and initiated a search of the area for the armed robber. Virginia State Trooper Cory Martin also responded to assist with the search and partnered with Wythe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Goins.

They expanded their search perimeter to a small bus terminal which is in a parking lot adjacent to the hotel and a fast food restaurant. They were stopped by a woman inside the terminal and advised of a suspicious male subject near the back wall. Deputy Goins and Trooper Martin spotted the man, and he fit the description of the armed robber.

Deputy Goins spotted the outline of a handgun on the man’s hip. Trooper Martin and Deputy Goins repeatedly told the man to comply by putting his hands up. He instead stood up, refused to comply, grabbed his pistol, and began shooting at Trooper Martin and Deputy Goins. Trooper Martin returned fire, and both Deputy Goins and Trooper Martin backed out of the tiny bus terminal building.

During the exchange of gunfire, Deputy Goins was struck in the leg and fell, as he and Trooper Martin were exiting the building. Trooper Martin continued to engage the shooter while pulling Deputy Goins to safety. The male shooter pursued the two and kept firing at them. Having taken cover, Trooper Martin continued to return fire and Deputy Goins also was able return fire at this point. The male shooter was struck two times and died at the scene.

Trooper Martin and Deputy Goins were heroic in their actions to stop the shooter and remove the threat, and Trooper Martin’s quick efforts most likely saved the life of Deputy Goins. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is honored to present Virginia State Trooper Cory W. Martin and Wythe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Goins with the distinguished 2019 Award for Valor.


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