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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 02, 2014
Governor, Attorney General honor Washington Medal of Honor recipients

Ceremony honors fallen officers, seriously injured and meritorious conduct

OLYMPIA—Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson awarded law enforcement officers with Washington state’s highest law enforcement award: The Medal of Honor. The medal is given to officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, who were seriously injured in the line of duty or who have displayed exceptionally meritorious conduct.

The ceremony took place at the Washington State Law Enforcement Medal of Honor/Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony in Olympia. The ceremony will be webcast at www.tvw.org.

“Every one of the individuals honored today has helped make Washington a safer state,” said Inslee. “It’s a heroic act to put on that uniform. Wearing that uniform is a choice to put the safety of others above one’s own safety, and we owe these men and women – and their families – our deepest gratitude.”

“The officers we honored here today demonstrated selfless public service and serve to inspire all of us,” said Ferguson. “I want to express a heartfelt thanks to these officers and every law enforcement officer serving in every community, in every corner of our state.”

The following officers were recognized today:

Posthumous Award for Service:

  • Officer William B. Spencer, Whitman County Sheriff’s Office: On April 1, 1892, Deputy William Spencer of the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office was shot while attempting to arrest a horse thief. Deputy Spencer and another deputy had located the suspect at Fort Spokane. As Deputy Spencer called out to the suspect to place him under arrest, the suspect suddenly spun around and opened fire. Deputy Spencer was wounded, but both deputies opened fire on the suspect and killed him. Two days after the shooting, and after Deputy Spencer’s arm was amputated, he died from complications of his gunshot wounds on April 3, 1892. 
  • Officer Edwin J. Wilson, Seattle Police Department: On Sept. 24, 1919, Seattle Police Officer Edwin J. Wilson was returning to headquarters after handling a call. While en route his motorcycle struck an unknown object in the street. The motorcycle went out of control, striking a telephone pole and ejecting Wilson, who was fatally injured. He was the first Seattle Police Motorcycle Officer to be killed in the line of duty. Wilson had served more than five years with the Seattle Police Department.
  • Officer Otto G. Brown, Bellingham Police Department: On March 5, 1929, Officer Brown was on his way to work riding a police motorcycle with sidecar.  After turning off a side street, Officer Brown was struck from behind by a taxi cab. The motorcycle was thrown into a nearby telephone pole where it crashed, throwing Officer Brown into the street. Officer Brown was severely injured and confined to the hospital for several weeks. Officer Brown recovered somewhat from his injuries and was able to return to work for a while, however, on January 8, 1930, he succumbed to complications from the collision.  According to the attending physician at the time of his death, Officer Brown died from apoplexy caused from high blood pressure brought about by the accident and a slight attack of pleurisy.
  • Officer Ellsworth Cordes, Seattle Police Department:  On Dec. 31, 1932, Seattle Police Officer Ellsworth W. Cordes was riding his police motorcycle when he collided with a street car. Cordes died as a result of his injuries. Cordes had served two years with the Seattle Police Department.
  • Officer John T. Clancy, Jr., Seattle Police Department:  On Dec. 24, 1949, Seattle Police Officer John T. Clancy, Jr. was operating his police motorcycle when he was struck by a vehicle operated by a drunk driver. Clancy died as a result of his injuries. Clancy had served more than three years with the Seattle Police Department.
  • Officer David P. Richards, Seattle Police Department:  On Sept. 1, 1967, Seattle Police Officer David P. Richards was riding his police motorcycle when due to mechanical failure the motorcycle went out of control, striking a guard rail and ejecting Richards. Richards died as a result of his injuries. Richards had served less than one year with the Seattle Police Department.
  • Officer Jerry L. Wyant, Seattle Police Department:  On Oct. 26, 1976, Seattle Police Officer Jerry L. Wyant was riding his police motorcycle on routine patrol when he was struck by a delivery truck which failed to yield the right of way. Wyant died as a result of his injuries. Wyant had served more than eight years with the Seattle Police Department.
  • Trooper Sean M. O’Connell Jr., Washington State Patrol: On May 31, 2013, Washington State Patrol Trooper Sean M. O’Connell, Jr. was providing traffic control for a detour route when he collided with a box van. O’Connell was ejected from his motorcycle and fatally injured. O’Connell had served with the Washington State Patrol for more than 15 years.

For Serious Injury: 

  • Trooper Michael Buckingham, Washington State Patrol:  In April 1981, Washington State Patrol Trooper Michael Buckingham was in pursuit of a drunk driver who collided with another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. That vehicle then crashed into Trooper Buckingham’s vehicle, leaving him trapped and unconscious and his vehicle engulfed in flames. Trooper Buckingham survived another thirty two years, during which time he endured numerous surgeries and painful physical therapy sessions. During that time Trooper Buckingham dedicated his life to public speaking and teaching about traffic safety and impaired driving issues and their consequences. Trooper Buckingham served four years with the Washington State Patrol.

For Meritorious Conduct: 

  • Sergeant Donald L. Almer, Bellingham Police Department: On Aug. 8, 2013, Sergeant Donald L. Almer attempted to stop an armed robbery suspect vehicle which resulted in a pursuit and the driver of the suspect vehicle firing a shotgun at Sergeant Almer and his vehicle, which was struck several times. The suspect vehicle crashed and the driver exited and continued to fire his shotgun at Sergeant Almer, who returned fire, incapacitating him and his weapon. Sergeant Almer then administered first aid to both suspects. Sergeant Almer has served over sixteen years with the Bellingham Police Department.
  • Deputy Adam Musgrove and Deputy Ryan Moody, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office: On Sept. 2, 2013, Deputies Musgrove and Moody responded to an occupied residence fire. Both deputies entered the burning residence and found the male occupant lying on the kitchen floor, refusing to leave. Both deputies immediately grabbed the male, picking him up and physically carrying him out of the burning residence against his will, thereby saving his life. Deputy Musgrove has served over two years with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and over eight years in law enforcement. Deputy Moody has served two years with Chelan County Sheriff’s Office and over twelve years in law enforcement.
  • Sergeant Rick Dunn, Monroe Police Department: On June 24, 2013, Sergeant Dunn physically removed a suicidal male, who outweighed him by over 150 pounds, from the path of a fast approaching train. Sergeant Dunn has served over ten years with the Monroe Police Department.

 More than 295 Washington state law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1889.

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