Officer Risks His Own Life to Save Fellow Officer
January 29, 2010
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Matthew Medeiros of the Boynton Beach (FL) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for January 2010.
The Medal of Valor is the highest honor a police department can give one of its officers for gallantry in action. It is only fitting that the first ever Medal of Valor presented by the Boynton Beach Police Department was awarded to Officer Matthew Medeiros.
On August 17th, 2008, a witness advised Boynton Beach police officers that a gunman, later identified as Tarvis Wilson, had just fired a gun at someone at an intersection. Moments later the radio dispatch relayed the message that a gunman in a green Nissan Altima had attempted to shoot at a group of people nearby; however, Wilson’s gun had misfired or jammed. Dispatch also relayed the fact that Wilson had just recently been released from prison. The pursuit was on.
Officer Michael Arco and Officer Medeiros spotted the suspect’s green Nissan fleeing toward Interstate 95. Officer Arco attempted a traffic stop, but Wilson refused to stop and led the officers on a 37-minute pursuit through Broward County and back to Palm Beach County. Once the suspect entered the Delray Beach area, officers used “spike strips” and were able to successfully deflate the vehicle’s front left tire.
The pursuing officers soon learned that the suspect’s mother lived nearby and he was most likely heading to her home. Wilson led pursuing officers from several departments to within a block of his mother’s house before he bailed from the vehicle and took off on foot. Sergeant Rich McNevin of the Boynton Beach Police Department attempted to cut off the suspect. He quickly exited his patrol car and began running toward the suspect’s expected destination. Unknowingly, Sergeant McNevin and Tarvis Wilson were running directly at each other.
Sergeant McNevin ran into the suspect in the carport of the suspect’s mother’s home where he attempted to place the suspect into custody. Wilson broke Sergeant McNevin’s grip and continued to flee with Sergeant McNevin close behind. In an instant, Wilson pulled his gun, turned, and fired at Sergeant McNevin. The shot was a near fatal hit striking Sergeant McNevin in the lower abdomen but stopped by his bullet resistant vest. Stunned by the impact, he fell to his hands and knees. Wilson seized the opportunity and fired two more rounds barely missing the officer.
At that moment Officer Medeiros appeared. Seeing how vulnerable Sergeant McNevin was, Officer Medeiros immediately placed his body between the injured officer and the suspect. Officer Medeiros and Wilson continued to exchange shots as Officer Medeiros shielded Sergeant McNevin and Wilson fled. Wilson continued to flee officers until he was ultimately shot and apprehended. As soon as he realized that Wilson was no longer a threat, Officer Medeiros began administering first aid to Sergeant McNevin. He continued to reassure him that he would be all right and stayed with his colleague until paramedics arrived.
In a letter supporting Officer Medeiros’s nomination for the Officer of the Month award, Sergeant McNevin wrote, “In all likelihood, Officer Matthew Medeiros saved my life that day. In complete disregard for his own personal safety, he placed himself directly in the line of fire. He acted with courage, bravery and honor.”
On May 9th, 2009, the Boynton Beach Police Department held its 31st Annual Police Memorial Ceremony to honor fallen officers and recognize those officers who went above and beyond the call of duty. For the first time since the inception of the Department’s Award Program, Officer Medeiros was awarded the Boynton Police Department Medal of Valor.
Officer Medeiros continues to serve with the Boynton Beach Police Department. In addition to his Medal of Valor, Officer Medeiros was awarded the Combat Cross in December 2008 and the Officer of the Month Award for August 2008. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Gold Coast Lodge #49. Officer Medeiros is the first officer from the Boynton Beach Police Department to be awarded the NLEOMF’s Officer of the Month Award.
Located in the nation’s capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Officer Medeiros, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2010, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2011 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s 2012 calendar.