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A simple request to check a Muni fare that ended in a shootout and the arrest of a fugitive from Seattle was one of the stories of bravery singled out for recognition at the annual San Francisco Police Department Medal of Valor awards ceremony at the Mission Bay Conference Center last week.
In all, 23 awards were handed out, and six officers received the Gold Medal of Valor, the highest honor the department bestows. All the recipients of the Gold Medal were involved in gunfights.
Officers Richard Hastings and Matthew Lopez were positioned on a Muni platform in the Bayview neighborhood, when they asked to see a rider’s fare receipt. The man fled across a crowded plaza and fired shots when the officers were 10 feet away. After a brief exchange of gunfire, he was arrested. The man turned out to be Kenneth Harding, Jr., a career criminal wanted for the murder of a young pregnant woman in Seattle a week before.
Officers Thomas Minkel and Joseph Everson attempted to pull over a car with outdated registration last December but ended up in a car chase and gun battle with another career criminal, who was wanted for stealing approximately 20 guns in a South Bay burglary.
An investigation by officers Patrick Griffin and Michael Tursi of gunshots fired into a sidewalk led them to a gunfight with a suspect who fired a handgun at the officers as he attempted to flee his home.
Thomas Mazzucco, the president of the city’s police commission, said, “These are our heroes.” He said that most of the officers told him, “We were doing our job.”
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