he IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club® pays tribute to those deserving officers who have avoided serious or potentially fatal injuries through the use of any kind of body armor. This column is dedicated to sharing their experiences, in hopes of persuading others to wear their armor. If body armor has helped you or a member of your department survive such an accident or assault, please contact Anna Knight, Club Administrator, IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club®, 5401 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23234; 804-383-3853; 800-441-2746; fax: 804-383-2477; e-mail: (Anna.G.Knight-1@USA.dupont.com).
The Survivors' Club application is also available on the IACP's Web site, (www.theiacp.org), under Awards/Survivors' Club.
Officer Survives Handgun Assault
Officer Peter J. Garrido of the New York City Police Department and his partner, Officer Daniel Perez, were members of an anticrime unit working the 77th Precinct and were investigating a robbery in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.
The officers spotted a suspicious person walking the streets. The man informed the officers that he was walking home. A short time later, the officers again observed the man but he was headed in a different direction. The officers monitored the subject for a while and then conducted a stop and frisk. They discovered that the man was carrying concealed a .40-caliber pistol. The suspect, who revealed that he had a criminal history and did not want to return to prison, became violent. He produced a second firearm, a 9mm pistol. The officers were struggling to control the suspect when he fired a shot that struck Officer Garrido in the chest and ankle.
Garrido was injured but stayed in the fight and used the suspect's firearm to stop him as he fled. The shooter was hit several times and fell to the ground. He was transported for medical care and after discharge was jailed on a charge of attempted murder of a police officer. The shooter has an extensive criminal history and awaits trial.
Garrido was transported to an area hospital and admitted for treatment for gunshot wounds. He was in the hospital for 10 days.
During a press conference after the shooting, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly displayed the vest worn by Garrido and reported that Garrido's life was spared because the shot to his chest was directly over his heart but was stopped by protective body armor. Officer Garrido was working on his 27th birthday the day he was shot.
Vest Protects Officer in Shooting
Lieutenant Raymond V. Upton of the New York City Police Department responded to a report of a robbery in progress on a Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn. As Upton arrived at a second-floor apartment, a man armed with a .45-caliber pistol appeared from behind a wall and opened fire. Upton traded gunfire with the shooter until the officer was struck in the lower torso. The force of the round knocked Upton to the ground, but his body armor stopped the bullet.
The shooter darted behind the wall, reemerged with a woman hostage, and then fled to the top floor, escaping through a roof hatch. Lieutenant Upton withdrew to cover, and responding officers found and arrested the shooter, charging him with attempted murder of a police officer. The shooter was not convicted.
Upton was transported to a hospital and admitted for treatment of a backface signature contusion. He has retired from the New York City Police Department.
Officer's Vest Withstands Knife Blade
On a Sunday night, Lieutenant Michael Barreto of the New York City Police Department was at the 110th Precinct station house in Queens verifying an arrest when a 33-year-old male burst in carrying a seven-inch butcher knife. The suspect stabbed Barreto between the shoulder blades.
Attending officers ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. He chose not to comply and lunged at the officers with the knife. The officers countered with pistol fire, justifiably killing the suspect. Investigators determined that the suspect had a criminal history that included a prior arrest for a violent crime.
Barreto was taken to an area hospital for treatment of a severe backface signature contusion where the point of the knife blade struck his protective body armor. The attending physician reported that Barreto's body armor prevented serious physical injury or death.
Officer Survives Stabbing
On a Friday afternoon, Montrose County, Colorado, sheriff's deputies attempted to stop a fleeing motorist who had outstanding warrants. The suspect avoided a tire deflation device, drove into a field, abandoned his vehicle, and fled on foot. The officers cornered the suspect, who brandished a six-inch knife, holding it to his own throat.
Sergeant Rick L. LaPena of the Montrose, Colorado, Police Department responded to the scene of the standoff and used a Taser to subdue the suspect. Another officer tried but failed to kick the knife from the suspect's hand. The suspect then stabbed LaPena in the side and attempted to flee. The suspect soon surrendered to other officers and was arrested.
The suspect was treated for self-inflicted knife wounds, released to police, and incarcerated on a variety of criminal charges, including assault on a police officer. The court referred the suspect for mental evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.
LaPena's protective body armor stopped the thrust of the knife and prevented serious injury. LaPena suffered a minor backface signature bruise from the knife stab but required no medical treatment. Sergeant LaPena has returned to his duties. ■