The Worcester, Massachusetts, Police Department handed out numerous awards during its recent Exemplary Service Ceremony, honoring 38 department personnel and four civilians who selflessly risked their lives to save others in various incidents that took place during 2013 through 2018.
During the event, Worcester Police Captain Aaron Theodoss and Chief Steven M. Sargent recalled acts of bravery and heroism as they presented the medals.
Among the incidents shared was one that occurred in 2017 involving a man with a knife on top of a parking garage who was threatening to jump to his death.
Theodoss described how hours of negotiations took place with the SWAT team standing by, but that no progress was made. Eventually, police fired a beanbag gun to distract the man, which caused him to make a dash to the ledge. Officer Robert Sansoucy dove to grab onto the man’s shins and feet, which had not yet cleared the ledge, but the man’s weight pulled the officer with him over the ledge.
Fortunately, three other officers, Johnathan Daige, Brian Piskator and Victor Martinez-Pietri, jumped in to pull both their fellow officer and the man to safety.
These officers received the department’s three highest awards — Distinguished Service, Meritorious Service and Valor. Sansoucy received the department’s Exemplary Service Award for Valor due to his actions that day, which showed “conspicuous bravery, heroism or other outstanding action, while aware of great personal danger prior to the performance of the act.”
Lieutenants Christopher Murphy and John Bossolt, Sergeant Andrew Cravedi and Officers Brian Piskator, Angel Rivera, Jonathan Daige, George Adams, Victor Martinez-Pietri, Shawn Frigon, David Rojas, Mariah Kaplan, Jesse Bonardi and Michael Mason all received awards for Meritorious Service.
The department also honored fallen officer Manny Familia, who was described as emblematic of the department’s selfless values.
“Last month, we celebrated the life of Worcester Police Officer Manny Familia, who died tragically by considering others’ safety and well-being above his own. At his funeral, the biblical verse from the book of John Chapter 15, spoken by Jesus Christ, said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ It’s undeniable that Manny displayed this love. I also want you to see the love that these brave men and women of the Worcester Police Department display to people in the city. People probably unknown to them personally. Yet selflessly caring about others’ lives above their own, despite the dangers the officers face,” Theodoss said during his speech.
Theodoss recalled 17 other incidents that officers responded to, ranging from suicide attempts, weapons assaults on victims, gunshot victims with severe blood loss, domestic incidents, cars on fire with trapped occupants and a baby not breathing because of an obstructed airway.
The Distinguished Service award, given to any member who “performs an act worthy of merit in a commendable manner, such as saving the life of another person, when such an action may or may not have imperiled the police officer’s life and well-being,” was awarded to the following: Lieutenant James Guittar, Sergeant Gerald O’Connor and Officers Dominic Mazzone, John Denio, Lawrence Trainor, Joshua Monfreda, Gerald Montiverdi Jr., Angel Rivera, Patrick White, Casey Onuigbo (twice), Rudis Rodriguez, Jesus Candelaria, Ryan Joyal (twice), Radoslaw Denert, Bruce Carter, Samuel Rivera, Scott Calhoun, Mike Spalatro, Joseph Wilmot, David Reidy (retired) and Matthew Chase (retired).
City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. and Mayor Joseph Petty were also in attendance. Augustus spoke about the special meaning behind such awards.
“Police see the very best in our community, but they also see the very worst,” he said. “In many cases, they walk into a situation they know little about. One that can change in an instant. The awards we hand out today are three of the highest awards given to officers in the Worcester Police Department … and these are well deserving recognitions for the sacrifices they made, the risks they take and the concern they show each and every day in working with our residents, businesses and visitors.”