Medal of Valor Awards

51 Department Member, Private Citizens Honored for Bravery, Medal of Valor Awards

Every year, department members who perform acts of great courage and heroism, who go above and beyond the call of duty to save the lives of others while placing their own lives at risk, are honored and recognized at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony.
This year, Sheriff Jim McDonnell honored 51 Department members, 6 private citizens at the event held at the University of Southern California’s Galen Center. In a special segment, four incidents related to the shooting that took place at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017 were acknowledged.  The astounding stories of off-duty personnel evacuating and carrying countless victims out of the danger zones to safety, loading victims on vehicles for transportation to hospitals, rendering aid to endless gunshot wounds and injuries, all while dodging heavy gunfire themselves.  Three private citizens were honored for their efforts in rendering aid to a deputy and Sergeant (married couple) who were shot at the festival.   

Special guest and Master of Ceremonies, Jovana Lara, ABC7 Eyewitness News Anchor, spoke of those heroic actions of each award recipient before a large audience. Highly decorated Marine Corps Master Sergeant David Lind (Retired) who survived multiple deployments and a road side bombing in the Middle East captured the essence of the evening, by talking about overcoming heroism, adversity and selfless leadership.
Among the many recipients of awards were deputies from Special Enforcement Bureau who showed great heroism after a two Pomona Police officers were shot.  On March 9, 2018 Pomona Police Department officers were in pursuit of a suspect.  The suspect drove to an apartment building, ran to his bedroom and shut the door.  After PPD officers attempted to force entry in the suspect’s bedroom he opened fire wounding a police officer.  In an attempt to rescue the officer another PPD was shot in the face.  This series of events led to a standoff with the suspect and the assistance of Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) requested to apprehend the now barricaded suspect.

During the course of the fifteen hour ordeal, almost every tool was exhausted to facilitate the suspect’s surrender. It was learned that the suspect had a violent criminal history and was armed with at least one firearm.  Multiple attempts were made to make entry inside the residence.  During the last attempt SEB personnel entered the suspect’s bedroom.  Explosive devices were placed on opposite sides of the suspect’s bedroom doorway which ultimately created space to see into the bedroom and ultimately make entry.  Upon contact with the suspect who violently resisted but was eventually taken into custody.  SEB personnel involved in the operation faced extreme danger and the conclusion of the incident is a credit to their professionalism and valiant attitude to compete the mission safely without regard for their own safety and without injury to their partners or the public. 

For displaying great bravery and decisiveness during a difficult and deadly situation, and knowingly placing themselves in immediate life-threatening peril, Sergeants Kamal Ahmad, Kevin Brown, and Deputies James Amann, Kenneth Brown, Gregory Davis, Ervin Francois, Kevin Hilgendorf, Stephen Longan, Carlos Lopez and Christopher Smelser were awarded the Medal of Valor.  

Other recipients included deputies from Carson station who responded to a house fire on January 18, 2018 and along with fire department personnel rescued the occupants. Upon deputies’ arrival, witnesses told them there were two victims trapped inside the burning residence. The windows of the residence had security bars installed.  The deputies immediately ran to the rear of the house and forcefully removed an air conditioner unit from the wall.  One deputy jumped in through the opening, but due to heavy black smoke, was forced to back out.  Deputies then went around the house and removed the security bars from a window using their expandable batons.  At that point fire department personnel arrived and giving not thought to their personal safety entry was made rescuing the occupants.

For their selfless actions and placing themselves in immediate peril, Sergeant Patrick Morey, Deputies Joseph Carlson, Morgan Arteaga, Nedila Estrada, Nicholas Martinez, Kelly Phillips, Jeffrey Uyekawa, Lovell Brown Jr., Melvin Castro, Timothy Cho, Scott Holdsworth, Thomas Leonetti, Jerry Lopez and Alonzo Peoples were awarded the Medal of Meritorious Conduct Gold and Silver Medal.

In 1982, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Valor Awards Program was established to officially and publicly recognize the exceptionally heroic acts performed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
These awards signify courage, acts of heroism while saving the life of another, traumatic physical injury while performing their job, preservation of human life, personal commitment, and sacrifice to help others.  Deputy Sheriffs are called upon to fluidly handle unexpected, challenging and dynamic situations. They do not shy away from uncertainty and work hard to make peace for others, often times at personal risk.  Every day, the men and women of the LASD perform their duties in a professional manner.  Today, however, this program honors those who extended themselves extraordinarily beyond what was required or asked of them.
Recipients of the 2018 Valor Awards

Special Enforcement Bureau

Sergeant Kamal Ahmad

Sergeant Kevin A. Brown

Deputy James I. Amann

Deputy Kenneth W. Brown

Deputy Gregory B. Davis

Deputy Ervin Francois

Deputy Kevin K. Hilgendorf

Deputy Stephen R. Longan

Deputy Carlos E. Lopez

Deputy Christopher J. Smelser


Pitchess Detention Center-North Facility

Deputy Alesha L. Gonzalez


Operation Safe Streets Bureau

Deputy Patrick A. Hobbs


South Los Angeles Station

Deputy Cesar A. Valiente


Compton Station

Deputy Wanda Y. Valiente

Deputy Miguel A. Garcia Jr

Deputy Edward S. Gonsalves

Deputy Austreberto A. Gonzalez

Deputy Brian H. Reza


Malibu/Lost Hills Station

Reserve Deputy Jack Garden

Reserve Deputy David J. Katz

Reserve Deputy Thad H. Woodward


Lomita Station

Sergeant Gerardo Cedano

Deputy Jonathan R. Kerber


Carson Station

Sergeant Patrick W. Morey

Deputy Joseph R. Carlson

Deputy Morgan E. Arteaga

Deputy Nedila Estrada

Deputy Nicholas G. Martinez

Deputy Kelly J. Phillips

Deputy Jeffrey S. Uyekawa

Deputy Lovell C. Brown Jr.

Deputy Melvin Z. Castro

Deputy Timothy W. Cho

Deputy Scott E. Holdsworth

Deputy Thomas M. Leonetti

Deputy Jerry Lopez

Deputy Alonzo Peoples Jr.


Lakewood Station

Lieutenant Eric E. Castano

Deputy Emily C. Dilelio


Personnel Bureau

Deputy Antonio N. Chavez


Walnut Station

Sergeant Patrick J. Coussa

Deputy William C. Fabian

Deputy Esther E. Kim

Deputy Brandon J. Seung

Deputy Dennis R. Skeels

Reserve Deputy Daniel S. Masanovich


Industry Station

Sergeant Gustavo A. Ramirez


East Los Angeles Station

Deputy Sergio A. Jimenez


Lakewood Station

Deputy Ethan Lizarraga

Deputy William Portillo

Deputy Ryan M. Sauls


Private Citizens

Ms. Gloria Aguirre

Ms. Alicia Hounsley

Ms. Alexandria Pendergrass

Mr. Nicholas Pendergrass

Mr. Derek Valiza

Mr. Mark Williams
To watch the ceremony and hear the heroic stories of more recipients, please click on the link:

Forwarded by:
Deputy Armando Viera Jr.
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Jim McDonnell, Sheriff
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department