STOCKTON (CBS13) – Police officers put their lives on the line every day, but two Stockton officers nearly lost theirs earlier this year.
On Wednesday, they were honored as heroes who remained calm in the face of possible death.
Stockton police officers are being recognized for the fight of their life. One officer got shot, while another got the gunman and arrested three other people.
For the first time since an officer was shot in the line of duty, he and his partner are in public together, being recognized for their heroism.
Back in March, two officers were following up on a homicide on Colt Drive. One of them was shot by the same gun from the murder they were investigating.
Officer Keith Berry was recognized for his injuries, which were so severe that he hasn’t returned to work yet.
“I was scared, very scared,” Officer Thomas Heslin said. “It was all a fight in the front yard.”
Berry’s fill-in partner of the day, Heslin, shot and killed the gunman that fired at him. Heslin then detained three people, despite the blood and the struggle.
“I was really busy for about two minutes,” said Heslin.
A neighbor, who witnessed the shooting, stood by Berry’s side and waited for help to arrive.
Dispatcher Christopher Sutter made the rescue happen in moments.
“First thought is a moment of disbelief,” said Sutter.
It’s the worst call in Sutter’s eight years in dispatch.
“It’s one of those moments in a career I hope no one will have to repeat,” he said.
It’s a call that nearly ended Berry’s life and one Heslin will forever think about.
“I try to put it out of my head,” said Heslin. “It’ll always be with me.”
It ended with officers now earning the highest of awards.
Heslin earned a Medal of Valor.
“It’s a true honor for me,” he said. “It’s a special thing to win a medal like this.”
Berry was awarded a Purple Heart and Golden Star, and dispatcher Sutter was recognized as well.
“Everybody under stressful conditions, everybody prevailed,” said Chief Eric Jones. “Nobody’s standing by, allowing the violence to occur.”
The chief said all of this is another way of pointing out the positives in the high crime city as Stockton deals with its 70th homicide of the year.
Officers say budget cuts have made their job tougher but have seen many citizens step up to help.