Sac PD ceremony awards community leaders, department heroes

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The Sacramento Police Department honored community and department heroes on Tuesday.

The 2019 Commendation Awards celebrated exemplary acts in everything from protecting holiday packages to saving lives.

The stories that brought the 15 honorees to a Sacramento Police Department stage were varied but there was one common thread.

The first police honor went, not to an officer, not even to a person, but to a business -- the Downtown Business Partnership

"Today we are celebrating people who are heroes because they did the right thing when it was needed to be done," said Sacramento Assistant City Manager Chris Conlin.

The Distinguished Service Award went to officers Jeremy Ratliff and Ashley Schiele, honored for their work on the bait package program helping to prevent and catch package thieves, particularly during the holiday season.

Eight law enforcement officers who were directly responsible for saving a life earned the Life Saving Award: Officers Michael Mantsch, Casey Dionne, Joseph DeQuattro, Bryan Smith, Paul Fong, Arthur Smith and Sgt. Robert Young with the Sacramento Police Department. As well as Deputy Eric Bavaro with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

The Medal of Valor went to School Resource Officer Carlos Martinez who, along with citizen Rodolfo Espinosa, saved two people from a burning mobile home fire.

"You can’t see nothing in there, only smoke and fire, and the lady yelling for help, so that’s why I went in and pull her out," said Espinosa.

Espinosa, who worked at the mobile home park, says he doesn’t remember thinking or being afraid. He says he simply reacted to a person in distress, running in after Officer Martinez.

"I couldn’t see her but I felt somebody pull my hand. That’s when I grabbed her and pulled her out," said Espinosa.

Catching a suspect who shot at police and set fire to a home earned Officer Zachary Yasonia the Bronze Medal of Valor.

And a standing ovation accompanied the Citizen Medal of Valor recipient Erik Forberg, who quite possibly saved an officer’s life when he got control of a man who had grabbed the officer's gun and was firing it.

Being recognized among such distinguished company is overwhelming for Espinosa who remains humble in his heroism, but also grateful.

"I don’t know, I can’t explain this, this never happened to me, but thanks to everybody over here for making this happen," said Espinosa.


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