by Stephanie Lum
At the Mission Memorial Auditorium, the Honolulu Police Department honored a number of outstanding police officers and civilians who risked their lives to keep us safe.
On the early morning of July 18th, members of the US Army's 57th Company from Schofield Barracks came upon the victims of a wrong way crash on the H-2 freeway involving three vehicles.
They immediately stopped and directed traffic and rendered first aid to the victims. For their heroic actions, HPD presented Staff Sergeant Billy Charles III, Specialists Austin Easter, Kirk Harris, Andrew Masterone, Torrance Polk and Privates First Class Stanley Bray II, Erin Elder and Donald Hura with Certificates of Merit.
7 HPD officers were recognized for going beyond the call of duty in a violent crime spree on April 14th. 2 men armed with guns led police on a high speed car chase. It all began in Downtown Honolulu, escalated with a car crash and then a shoot-out on Kalanianaole Highway and Ainakoa Avenue.
Officers Lovinna Kaniho, Keenan Lau and Nicholas Masagatani, who received HPD's highest award, the Warrior Gold Medal of Valor, shot back at the gunmen.
Officer Theirry Nguepdjo received the second highest honor. Nguepdjo jumped into action; driving his vehicle at the suspect who was firing shots to save his fellow officers.
The officers credit their training for their quick thinking.
"They prepare you pretty well at the academy but obviously nothing can truly prepare you for something of that magnitude," said Officer Nguepdjo.
"I pretty much put myself in a situation where I told myself it wasn't happening and it was as if I was playing a game and I fell back on my training and let it go from there," said Officer Magasatani.
In all, four officers received HPD's highest award, three were awarded the silver medal of valor and two were given the bronze medal of valor.