Police officers who responded to a tense incident in downtown Oak Harbor July 11 acted with utmost professionalism and deserve to be recognized, Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker said Monday.
And recognized they were.
Dresker handed out a series of awards and commendations to eight officers, an emergency dispatcher and the police chaplain during the ceremony.
“Situations such as this bring out the family and teamwork side of not only law enforcement, but all emergency services and, in fact,” Dresker said, “our community as a whole.”
DRESKER PRESENTED Officer Michael Brown with the department’s Medal of Distinction. Office Matt Krysinski received the Life Saving Award. Sgt. Carl Seim, Officer Ron Esparza and Detective Jim Hoagland were presented the Distinguished Service Award. Officer Manny Silveira, Deputy Lane Campbell, Officer Lisa Powers-Rang and Chaplain Ron Lawler got Certificates of Commendation. Dispatcher Melina Padrta received a Letter of Recognition.
“We need to make sure we are keenly aware,” the chief said, “that recognizing these officers should also be a recognition of the work police officers, corrections officers, firefighters and many others do each and every day for their communities, much of which goes unrecognized.”
Dresker explained that officers responded to a report that a man abducted a woman and was pointing a gun at her in Hal Ramaley Park. Seim, Brown, Krysinski, Esparza responded to the scene and established “a containment zone” around the park. They talked to the suspect in an attempt to draw his attention from the woman and to deescalate the situation. Other officers arrived, including Hoagland, Silveira and Campbell.
DRESKER STRESSED how officers had to make split-second decisions during a rapidly changing situation in which a woman’s life appeared to be in peril. The officers at the scene, which included Dresker, felt there was no choice but to use deadly force.
“No police officer wants to have to deploy their firearm and possibly take someone’s life,” Dresker said. “However, officers take their oath of office seriously as well as their duty to assist their community and protect those they serve.”
Brown didn’t shirk his duty, Dresker said. He shot the suspect, hitting him in the arm.
The officers converged on the suspect and victim. The injured man struggled with the officers and Silveira had to use a Taser on him. Dresker explained that the man was bleeding profusely from a potentially fatal wound. Krysinski quickly and expertly applied a tourniquet, which directly lead to saving the suspect’s life, the chief said.
SEIM WORKED with the officers, including Powers-Rang, to secure the scene and, along with Lawler, assisted the officers in the post-incident process.
Throughout the incident, I-COM dispatcher Melina Padrta acted with calm professionalism in communicating with the officers.
It turned out that the suspect’s weapon was an air gun, but police had no way of knowing that. Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks reviewed the investigation into the incident, which was conducted by a team of Skagit County officers, and found that Brown was justified.
The suspect, Nathan Trujillo, pleaded guilty to a kidnapping charge and is serving a prison term.