Ceremony honors law enforcement officers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor Pat Quinn presented the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor to 19 Illinois law enforcement officers today during a ceremony at the Executive Mansion in Springfield. The annual awards ceremony honors law enforcement officers who have distinguished themselves by exhibiting bravery at the risk of their own lives.
“It is both an honor and a privilege to recognize these men and women for unselfishly putting their lives on the line each and every day,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “Tragically, three of the officers we honor today made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives while in the performance of their duties.”
Three of the medals were awarded to the families of Chicago Police Officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Detective Joseph M. Airhart, Jr. died on November 4, 2008, from gun shot injuries he received on August 8, 2001, while serving an arrest warrant on a bank robbery suspect; Officer Richard M. Francis was killed in the line of duty on July 2, 2008, while responding to a disturbance on a city bus; and, on September 28, 2008, Officer Nathaniel Taylor, Jr., was fatally shot while executing a search warrant on a three-time convicted felon and gang member.
“It is with great pride that we honor these officers for the sacrifices they made protecting our citizens and communities,” said Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken. “Whether serving arrest warrants, or pulling someone from a burning vehicle, or engaging in gunfire, these individuals have demonstrated incredible acts of bravery which are a reflection of their dedication to serving the citizens of Illinois.”
Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, police officers from municipal, county, and state agencies patrol the streets of this state. Each of those officers and their families understand the risks those officers assume. These officers are no exception, they are proud to serve the residents and citizens of this state.
Medal of Honor Award recipients include:
- Officer Erick Stahmer, Blue Island Police Department
- Detective Joseph M. Airhart, Jr., Chicago Police Department (posthumously)
- Officer Richard M. Francis, Chicago Police Department (posthumously)
- Officer Robert E. Gallas, Chicago Police Department
- Sergeant Michael T. Karczewski, Chicago Police Department
- Sergeant Jose L. Lopez, Chicago Police Department
- Officer Thomas P. Tinsman, Chicago Police Department (retired)
- Officer Vincent Jamison, Chicago Police Department
- Officer Nathaniel Taylor, Jr., Chicago Police Department (posthumously)
- Officer Lemornet Miller, Chicago Police Department
- Sergeant Michael G. O’Malley, Chicago Police Department
- Officer James B. Wynn, Chicago Police Department
- Detective Paul Carney, Elmhurst Police Department
- Trooper James T. Adkisson, Illinois State Police
- Deputy Kyle R. Doolen, Madison County Sheriff’s Office
- Officer Timothy A. Gramins, Skokie Police Department
- Officer Lauren P. Kasper, Willowbrook Police Department
- Officer Timothy J. Kobler, Willowbrook Police Department
Additional information about the events for which the award winners were selected:
Illinois State Police Trooper James T. Adkisson arrived at the scene of a crash on April 6, 2008, to find the vehicle on its top and fully engulfed in flames. Two people were attempting to remove the subject from the vehicle when Trooper Adkisson crawled to the window, reached in and pulled the subject, who was wrapped in flames, from the vehicle on his second attempt. Adkisson and another motorist smothered the fire and pulled the subject away from the burning vehicle. Trooper Adkisson suffered second degree burns to his hands as a result of pulling the individual to safety. The victim, although badly burned, survive.
On June 24, 2008, Blue Island Police Officer Erick Stahmer, a member of the South Suburban Emergency Response Team (SSERT), responded to an insurance office where an offender was armed with a handgun making demands inside the business. After speaking with the hostage negotiator, it was discovered the offender initially demanded $5,000 and a vehicle, and had also shot and killed a woman in the office. Although the negotiator was able to talk the offender into surrendering, he exited the building with a weapon in his hand. While walking toward SSERT officers, he refused to drop the weapon and began to raise it in the direction of the officers. Officer Stahmer was one of two officers that responded to the threat and used necessary force to neutralize the offender.
On July 2, 2008, Chicago Police Officer Richard M. Francis was called to the scene of a disturbance at a bus stop where a woman was causing problems on the bus. When Officer Francis arrived, she began attacking him and managed to grab his gun. She fired the weapon three times, striking Officer Francis in the head. After threatening other officers who arrived on the scene to assist, she was shot and wounded. Officer Francis was rushed to a medical center where he was pronounced dead just one hour after the incident occurred. Officer Francis as a 27-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.
While on routine patrol on July 7, 2008, Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle R. Doolen observed a stolen vehicle traveling on Interstate 70. The occupants were wanted for stealing the vehicle, residential burglary, and attempted armed robbery of a convenience store. Deputy Doolen began his pursuit with lights and sirens, but the vehicle would not stop and a high-speed chase ensued. During the pursuit, the convertible top of the suspect’s vehicle was lowered and one of the occupants stood up and began firing shots at Deputy Doolen with an assault rifle. Two rounds went through the deputy’s windshield, two rounds through the light bar, and one round through the headlight. Deputy Doolen sustained a minor injury to his right forearm but continued the pursuit until the suspects stopped and fled on foot. Deputy Doolen and other officers set up a perimeter in the area, and one suspect was arrested shortly thereafter; the other two suspects were arrested later following a search.
On August 5, 2008, Chicago Police Officer James B. Wynn and his partner responded to a shots fired call and observed the offender standing on the street. As the officers exited their vehicle, the offender began shooting at them. As he was seeking cover, Officer Wynn was shot in the foot. The officers returned fire and chased the offender as he fled. After barricading himself in the stairway of a building, the suspect continued to fire at officers who had arrived at the scene for more than two hours, firing over 50 rounds. The offender was fatally wounded after leaving his protected area and again opening fire on the officers.
On August 25, 2008, Skokie Police Officer Timothy A. Gramins located a vehicle matching the description of a one involved in a bank robbery. Gramins attempted to stop the vehicle, but the suspect would not comply. After radioing in the situation, the suspect vehicle abruptly stopped, with the driver quickly exiting and shooting at Officer Gramins with a semi-automatic handgun. Gramins returned fire through the windshield of his car and a gun battle ensued. Using his police car as cover, he re-loaded his weapon and was able to shoot under the car at the offender who was also shooting back at him. During this gunfire exchange, the offender was struck numerous times and fatally wounded.
On September 13, 2008, while in Utah conducting a training seminar, Chicago Police Officer Vincent Jamison observed a man stabbing another man in the face, neck, and arm with scissors. After identifying himself as a police officer and ordering the man to stop, the suspect began stabbing the man again. Officer Jamison fired his weapon, shooting the suspect in the back. The subject then attempted to flee, but Jamison was able to hold him until Orem officers arrived.
While off duty on September 14, 2008, checking on the extent of a flooded park, Elmhurst Police Detective Paul Carney heard screams for help. The victim had tried cutting through the park to a friend’s house when he went under water. Detective Carney jumped into the water and swam approximately 50 yards to reach the teen, pulling him 10-15 feet back toward the shore when a man and his son in an inflatable boat arrived to tow them to safety. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital and released shortly thereafter.
Chicago Police Officer Nathaniel Taylor, Jr. was killed on September 28, 2008, while executing a search warrant with fellow officer Lemornet Miller. Working in an undercover narcotics capacity, the officers observed the felon arrive at the target location in a vehicle. As the officers approached the vehicle, the offender waited for Officer Taylor to approach and slowly opened the door of the vehicle where he concealed a .38 caliber revolver. He opened fire on Officer Taylor, striking him once in the head, chest, and arm. Officer Miller returned fire, striking the offender 13 times. Officer Taylor died later that day.
As members of a District Gang Team, Chicago Police Sergeants Michael T. Karczewski and Jose L. Lopez, and Officers Robert E. Gallas and Thomas P. Tinsman, obtained information on the location of four armed and dangerous offenders wanted for armed robbery of a clothing store on November 8, 2008. After setting up surveillance, the officers observed two offenders leaving the building and getting into a vehicle used in the robbery. As the officers tried stopping them, they pointed a handgun at Officer Tinsman who was blocking their path and took off in the vehicle, driving recklessly to escape, and crashing into a fire hydrant. Sergeants Lopez and Karczewski, along with Officer Gallas, approached on foot and ordered the offenders to exit the vehicle. The driver then pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and pointed it at Karczewski, who, along with Sergeant Lopez, fired their weapons, striking the offender. The subject then put the vehicle in reverse attempting to hit Officer Gallas and Sergeant Lopez. The officers shot the offender to end the threat upon themselves and their fellow officers.
Chicago Probationary Officer Anthony Munizzi was shot by an unknown assailant on December 12, 2008, while canvassing an area for spent shell casings from a reported aggravated battery. As he was guarding the crime scene, random shots were fired in his direction. After taking cover behind his police vehicle, Probationary Officer Munizzi realized he had been shot in the right shoulder. His injury was not life threatening.
While on patrol on December 18, 2008, Chicago Police Sergeant Michael G. O’Malley responded to a call of a suspicious person and observed a male subject fitting the description. As he was exiting his car, the suspect turned and fired multiple times at Sergeant O’Malley with a semi-automatic pistol, striking him in the handcuff case. O’Malley returned fire and a running gun battle ensued with only a line of parked cars between them. Sergeant O’Malley then struck and incapacitated the armed offender. He skillfully disarmed him, called for backup, and handcuffed and placed the offender under arrest.
While assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Fugitive Task Force, Chicago Police Detective Joseph M. Airhart, Jr., was serving an arrest warrant at the apartment of a bank robbery suspect on August 8, 2001, when he was shot in the head. The suspect refused to let him go for two hours. Detective Airhart was left unable to talk, walk, feed himself, or breathe without a ventilator. He spent several years in critical condition, and on November 4, 2008, he passed away.