A Fresno police officer prevented an officer-involved shooting and later helped a frightened elderly woman get needed food and home repairs.
A California Highway Patrol officer helped save the life of a bleeding suspect by plugging a bullet hole in his flesh with her finger.
A detective with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office got to the bottom of a frightening kidnap story.
These are just a few stories shared about this year’s Top Cop award recipients. The annual awards – given to a CHP, police and sheriff official – were presented Thursday by The Exchange Club of Fresno at Fort Washington Country Club.
Below are some stories about the 2019 award recipients, via nomination applications submitted to the exchange club.
Stopping an officer-involved shooting
On Valentine’s Day 2018, a man high on methamphetamine rapidly raised a gun in his hands “in an apparent attempt to prompt officers to shoot” as Fresno Police Officer Gil Holguin responded to a disturbance call.
The caller said the suspect was unarmed, but upon arrival, a family member said the man had a knife and a fake gun. Holguin – who was once shot while policing a Mardi Gras celebration – saw it was fake and told responding officers such.
His rapid assessment prevented an officer-involved shooting.
The suspect was taken into custody, aided by Holguin’s “large size and strength.”
Helping an elderly woman
Holguin’s award nomination goes on to talk about he responded to a 94-year-old woman’s home in October following a call to check on her mental health. The woman said she was afraid and wanted to live in a senior community. She thought her fence was vandalized, but it had collapsed due to age. Holguin gave her information for a fence repairman, who installed a new, taller fence.
Holguin then contacted Meals on Wheels for the woman after he learned she had trouble shopping for food and cooking, and the service started delivering free meals to her on a regular basis.
He also contacted an elder abuse unit to find a new place for her to live but when he checked back with her later, she told him she decided to remain in her home because he made her feel safe again.
“Although Officer Holguin is very capable of taking tough guys off the street,” his award nomination reads, “it’s his compassion for crime victims and citizens that set him apart.”
Saving an injured suspect’s life
In February 2018, CHP Officer Traci Gallian responded to an almond orchard north of Fresno carrying a bag of emergency medical supplies. She relieved two CHP officers, who had shot a suspect wielding a knife following a car chase.
The suspect was bleeding profusely from what appeared to be a ruptured artery. Gallian recognized the seriousness of this and immediately applied direct pressure to the wound while wearing protective gloves, which became saturated with blood and eventually tore. The bleeding continued.
She then “inserted her finger into the bullet hole wound that was the primary source of the bleeding” and left it there for several minutes until an ambulance arrived.
“Officer Gallian knowingly exposed herself to potential blood-borne pathogens due to her overriding desire to preserve human life.”
The suspect was flown to a hospital, where he underwent surgery.
“Due to Officer Gallian’s tireless efforts, the suspect’s life was saved.”
Investigating a kidnapping
Detective Jesse Gloria with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office was assigned to investigate the kidnapping of an 8-year-old boy in January. He spent three days re-interviewing everyone involved.
As a result of his efforts, the child admitted that he made up the story about his kidnapping because he was scared of getting in trouble for another unrelated event at home.
His award nomination described Gloria as a people-person who is able to make victims feel comfortable. This ability helped him discover the truth and “eased the tensions and worry of the community.”
Gloria has also worked more than 460 hours of volunteer patrol shifts on his days off “to help with the shortage in patrol and to help eliminate the mandatory overtime that was being assigned to his peers.”
Carmen George: 559-441-6386, @CarmenGeorge