Friday, Nov. 13, will be the 49th Annual Metropolitan Chiefs and Sheriffs Association Awards for Valor. This event honors officers across the metro area for acts of bravery and heroism, and many KCPD members will be recognized. While this event has happened for nearly 50 years, the year during which these officers performed these acts has been anything but ordinary. We are under more scrutiny than ever before, but still, these officers did not hesitate to run toward danger and put themselves at great risk of harm.
The ceremony will stream live on KCPD’s YouTube Channel. Missouri awards will be presented at 10 a.m., followed by Kansas awards at 11:30 a.m. (The ceremony had to be split this year to accommodate social distancing.)
Some of these incidents you may have heard about, like the officers who stopped a vehicle on the Super Bowl parade route in February. Others, you may have heard a little about – such as our officers getting shot – but didn’t realize all of the heroism behind the scenes. Here are just a few of the Kansas City Missouri Police officers who will be receiving awards and what they did:
Domestic Violence Rescue
Officers Jared Littleton, Devin Jackson and Dakota Stone were all dispatched at 1:30 a.m. July 3, 2019, to an address in the East Patrol Division area, in regard to an armed man. As they neared the address, three children came running towards their police vehicles and told the officers their step-father was cutting their mother with a knife.
As they approached the doorway to enter the home, they announced themselves and saw a man with his back to the officers, pinning a woman against the wall. The officers heard a woman scream, “Help me, he is going to kill me!”
The officers immediately gave verbal commands to the man to drop the knife and get on the ground. After a few tense moments, the man finally complied, dropped the knife and laid on the ground where he was taken into custody.
The woman was safe from the threat, but she had a severe cut on her left thumb from where the man had cut her with the knife. She told officers the man was her husband and this was not the first time he had threatened to kill her. During this particular incident, she was standing in the living room when her husband grabbed a knife from the kitchen and told her to go the bedroom. She did and the man followed her, but he stopped at her daughter’s room, pointed the knife at her and demanded her cell phone so she couldn’t call the police. During the confrontation, the woman’s son came out of his room yelling, “No daddy, don’t kill my mom!” The man said he didn’t care, he knew the police were coming and he was going to kill her tonight and began to attack her.
Thankfully, the officers arrived quickly and made decisive actions, saving the woman and her children from a potentially life-threatening situation, while keeping themselves and the man safe from injuries.
Triple-Homicide Suspects Caught Red-Handed
Officers Cody Halterman and Levi Plaschka had been concentrating their patrol efforts on the area of 45th and Benton in October 2019 because a great deal of shootings and narcotics activity were taking place there. On the night of October 17, 2019, they were in that area and heard two groups of gunshots on the same block where they were. They saw a woman carrying a rifle enter a parked car and another man standing nearby. Then they saw a man lying in the street behind the car.
They ordered the woman out of the car, and Officer Plaschka took her into custody. As he was doing so, Officer Halterman heard footsteps and turned to see the man standing by the car running away. Officer Halterman ran after him and eventually caught him in the backyard of a home in the 4500 block of Chestnut.
Meanwhile, Officer Plaschka looked in the car the woman had been in and saw the rifle in the front passenger seat. He then checked on the man lying on the street and found him dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Once additional officers arrived, Officer Plaschka did a canvass of the immediate area to check for any other possible victims. He found a house with the front door hanging open. He discovered two more victims inside, dead from gunshot wounds. He cleared the rest of the house, finding no one else inside.
Subsequent investigation revealed the woman with the rifle and the man Officer Halterman chased down were responsible for the killing of all three victims, and the rifle was the murder weapon. Because the officers immediately caught both suspects “red-handed,” both suspects were quickly charged with first-degree murder and multiple other charges in the triple homicide.
Officers Stop Bus Shooter
A Kansas City Missouri Police officer who was injured in a shooting on July 2 of this year thankfully survived.
The call started mid-morning with a distress signal from a Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) bus operator. She had just witnessed a stealing at Independence Avenue and Wilson Avenue and the suspect had just entered her bus after committing the theft. The driver stopped the bus at Independence Ave. and Hardesty Ave., where her supervisor met her. To avoid drawing the attention of the suspect, the bus driver told the supervisor there was a problem with the bus.
As suspect got up to question the bus driver about the stop, two marked police vehicles pulled up behind the bus. Officer Sticken was alerted to the distress signal because of his unique assignment as a liaison to the KCATA. Officers Cruz and Gemell were dispatched to the call, as well. Officer Sticken got out of his vehicle and walked alongside the bus toward the front door as Officers Cruz and Gemmell followed from a distance.
The suspect noticed the officers approaching and reached into a bag he was carrying. He pulled out a handgun and began shooting at Officer Sticken from inside the bus. Officer Sticken was shot in the shoulder, after which he retreated to nearby cover and fell to the ground.
The suspect exited the bus and continued shooting at Officer Sticken as he lay on the ground. Officer Sticken recalls hearing the handgun click three times. The suspect then ran to the front of the bus and shot through the windshield, striking the bus operator. He then began to pace near the corner of the intersection, still holding the gun, as Officers Cruz and Gemmell approached him. As he saw the officers coming toward him, he shot at them, but they were able to return fire, causing the suspect to fall to the ground. He was taken into custody, and they promptly rendered aid until paramedics arrived.
Officer Sticken suffered an abrasion to his shoulder that resulted from the shots being fired at him. The bus driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect also had non-life-threatening injuries. The officer was treated and released from an area hospital the same day. The suspect was charged with multiple counts relating to the shootings.
Officer Seriously Wounded, Rescued by Fellow Officers
The same day KCPD Officer Sticken was shot, July 2, 2020, another KCPD officer was also shot, placing him in a fight for his life.
A call came into dispatch of a man pointing a gun at citizens at a fast food drive-through near 31st and Van Brunt. In the middle of the call, the caller said the suspect had just tried to carjack someone and was acting erratically. Dispatch sent Officers Nathan Anderson and Tyler Webster to the location, and on their way, they made phone contact with the 911 caller. The caller told them the armed suspect was walking south from the location, which the officers relayed to other responding officers. Due to the nature of the call, Sergeant Justin Palmer also responded. Officers Tyler Moss and Mark Diviak also responded to assist.
As Officers Diviak and Moss arrived to the scene, an individual began shooting at their police vehicle. They quickly turned their vehicle around and relayed the information to other officers. An “assist the officer” was ‘toned’ out by dispatch. The tone is very distinctive and unforgettable.
After shooting at the officers, the suspect ran towards a building in the 3300 block of Stadium Drive. Officers Moss and Diviak exited their vehicle and began to walk in the direction the suspect ran. They were quickly joined by Officers Levi Plaschka and Landon Hartley. Sergeant Palmer and Officers Anderson and Webster also responded. Sergeant Palmer advised all officers to slow down and to move as safely as possible while searching for the suspect.
Officers Moss, Diviak, Hartley and Plaschka were already moving one direction, so Sergeant Palmer and Officers Anderson and Webster began to look for the suspect in the other direction. Officer Jamison Raines arrived on the scene and joined the officers. Officers Moss and Plaschka saw the suspect first and gave orders to show his hands. The suspect immediately began shooting at the officers, striking Officer Moss in the head.
Officer Moss dropped to the ground. Without hesitation, Officer Plaschka stood over Officer Moss and shot the suspect. Officers Diviak, Hartley, and Anderson quickly grabbed Officer Moss and carried him to safety while Officer Plaschka maintained the safety of the other officers.
After hearing the assist the officer tone and then the fateful “officer down” radio transmission, Sergeant Jason Childers immediately responded to the location near where Officer Moss was with the other officers. Sergeant Childers was at the station when the tone went out, having just left the first officer-involved shooting scene from earlier that day. Officer Alisha Shockley also responded to the assist call. With the scene still not safe or secure, Sergeant Childers drove to where the officers had Moss, and they put him into the back of the sergeant’s vehicle. Officer Alisha Shockley jumped into the vehicle and immediately applied pressure to the injury, while Officer Diviak stayed by Officer Moss’ side the entire drive to the hospital. The decision to take Officer Moss in their own vehicle was a matter of life or death. One of Moss’ doctors said at a later press conference. “If his colleagues waited for EMS – and that’s no knock on EMS – but this type of injury, minutes and seconds are vital,”
At the scene, Sergeant Palmer maintained his composure over the radio and continued to clear the location with the remaining officers. There was information from the original call indicating there was another armed individual with the suspect. After a thorough search, it was determined that there was only one suspect involved. The suspect died as a result of his injuries.
Officer Moss was rushed into surgery and remained in critical condition. His coworkers and many on the Department were at the hospital supporting him and his family the entire time. After two weeks of ICU care, miraculously he no longer needed breathing assistance and had become more alert. He started physical therapy and was able to stand with assistance. On July 23, just three weeks after doctors gave him just a 1% chance of survival, he was released from the hospital to continue his healing at a rehabilitation facility out of state. The facility focused on brain injury and neurological rehabilitation and recovery. He was able to come home to Kansas City a few weeks ago.
All the officers involved displayed courage and bravery, and each played a vital role in saving the life of Officer Moss and the keeping the people of Kansas City safe.
These are just a few of the extraordinary acts officers have performed, and they are only the ones from KCPD. Many more from other metro-area agencies will be recognized on Friday. At a time when many people question every move officers make, your metro-area officers still do not hesitate to lay their lives on the line to save others.
Our dedication to duty is unwavering. We have answered and will continue to answer every call for help, no matter the person’s politics, beliefs, socioeconomic status, race or even COVID-19 diagnosis. In a pandemic, in civil unrest, or on just an otherwise unremarkable day, KCPD and our metro-area partners will be there when you need help, no matter what.
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