A Los Angeles police officer was celebrated for her heroics during a gunfight and dozens of others were recognized for injuries they suffered in the line of duty at the LAPD's Medal of Valor and Purple Heart ceremony.
Hundreds of officers, top LAPD brass and city officials gathered in a Hollywood banquet hall Thursday for the annual luncheon, which highlights some of the more dramatic rescues and dangerous encounters involving city police.
Officer Nuria Vanegas was awarded the Medal of Valor for facing off with a group of armed burglary suspects one night in August 2011.
As Vanegas and her partner followed the suspects in their patrol car, the group opened fire on the officers, according to a LAPD account of the shooting.
Seeing that her partner had been shot, Venegas got out of the car and drew the suspects’ attention from her wounded partner by returning fire. After the suspects fled, Vanegas tended to her wounded partner, Sal Obaidee.
Obaidee was one of 41 officers to be awarded the LAPD's Purple Heart for injuries suffered on the job. Because the department began awarding the Purple Heart only recently, many of the officers were recognized Thursday for incidents that occurred in decades past and have long since retired from the force.
The oldest case was that of George Booker Mogle, a reserve officer who was shot July 31, 1946, by a man during a foot pursuit. Struck in the stomach, Mogle died from the wound a week later.
Alongside Vanegas, a second officer was also given a Medal of Valor.
On July 10, 1989, Officer Michael Flanagan and his partner were patrolling the Jordan Downs Housing Development in South Los Angeles when four members of a gang launched a planned ambush. As the officers came under intense gunfire, Flanagan was hit multiple times in the hands and arms but managed to drive the vehicle to safety.