2003 Troopers of the Month
January | Trooper Anthony Lee
Congratulations to Trooper Anthony Lee who is the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for January 2003, based on his life-saving actions involving the rescue of a Fire Rescue driver caught in a burning vehicle.
On January 30, 2003, while on routine patrol on I-95, Trooper Lee observed that a Broward County Fire Rescue vehicle had been involved in a traffic crash. After observing smoke coming from the vehicle, and noting that the driver appeared to be lying down across the front seat, he attempted to gain entry to the vehicle. Using a metal bar, he broke out the passenger window, and with the help of a civilian, entered the vehicle to alert the driver. After assessing that the driver’s leg was pinned beneath the seat, Trooper Lee dislodged his leg and pulled him from the vehicle to safety.
Trooper Lee’s quick removal of the injured driver is indicative of his courage and ability to make good decisions in dangerous situations. He acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions.
February | Trooper Kristi Menzies
Congratulations to Trooper Kristi Menzies for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for February 2003, based on her life-saving actions in preventing a potential suicide victim from jumping off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
On Friday, February 28, 2003, during the early morning rush hour traffic, Trooper Menzies responded to the scene of an attempted suicide on the Skyway Bridge. Upon her arrival, Trooper Menzies was able to make contact with the attempted suicide subject, Izra James Richard Nowitzke, who was located on top of the center span bridge support cable approximately 50 feet above the roadway. Through her efforts, Trooper Menzies was able to build a rapport with the subject and learn that he was despondent over past and present events in his personal life, which resulted in his threat of attempted suicide. Trooper Menzies successfully established dialogue with him for over two hours until the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office responded with a trained negotiator. Approximately 45 minutes after the negotiator arrived, Mr. Nowitzke voluntarily came down to the roadway and was no longer threatening to jump. According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office lead negotiator, Detective Todd Anthony, Trooper Menzie’s efforts were instrumental in the positive outcome of this incident-the saving of a human life!
Trooper Menzies acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for her actions.
March | Trooper Alexander Annunziato
Trooper Alexander Annunziato has been selected as the Trooper of the Month for March 2003 for his involvement in two separate incidents in which his actions helped prevent injury and the endangerment of life. The first incident involved a mentally ill subject who escaped from a local facility for the mentally disturbed. The subject, armed with a bottle and a large rock, walked onto the center median of a busy roadway in Dade County. The roadway was immediately closed in both directions to protect the subject and passing motorists. Trooper Annunziato approached the subject and attempted to defuse the situation by calmly telling him to remain still, and to put down the bottle and rock. Miami-Dade Police Officers arrived at the scene and surrounded the subject while Trooper Annunziato distracted him. Upon Trooper Annunziato’s signal, the officers were able to apprehend the subject without causing injury to him or anyone else. Trooper Annunziato exhibited courage and common sense while confronting an armed mentally ill subject.
The second incident occurred while Trooper Annunziato was working a DUI shift in which he stopped the driver of a vehicle for weaving in and out of passing lanes and for faulty equipment. While talking to the driver, Trooper Annunziato noticed a small plastic bag containing a suspicious white powder substance in the driver’s side door panel. Upon further investigation, the driver was immediately arrested for possession of cocaine. A female juvenile who was in the front passenger seat then told Trooper Annunziato that she was being held against her will. The female stated that she was forced to perform sexual acts with the driver under the threat of being killed. She said that the driver attempted to stab her with a six-inch screwdriver, which was later retrieved from the vehicle. Trooper Annunziato secured the victim and the crime scene until detectives from the Miami-Dade Police Sexual Crime Unit arrived to process the evidence. Once again, Trooper Annunziato’s quick and brave actions resulted in preventing further injury or potential loss of life.
Congratulations to Trooper Annunziato for being selected FHP’s Trooper of the Month for March 2003!
April | Trooper Gary Bach
Congratulations to Trooper Gary Bach for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for April 2003, based on his excellent police work.
On April 17, 2003, Trooper Bach stopped a driver for unlawful speed. While speaking with the driver, he observed his nervous behavior and unusual travel plans. In addition, the driver had a suspended driver’s license. As his suspicions increased, he called Trooper Chad Lawson for assistance.
Upon Trooper Lawson’s arrival, Trooper Bach continued the investigation to discover that the driver and female passenger were traveling to meet someone in Jacksonville. This investigation yielded the following: documentation for over 30 cell phones, over 20 ATM cards with different account numbers, deposit slips showing large sums of money deposited at over 15 banks, two airline tickets, incomplete immigration documents, mail from four different locations, maps for North Carolina outlining populated areas, surveillance equipment and metal detectors.
Trooper Bach and Trooper Lawson contacted Sergeant James D. Shaw, who instructed them to detain the suspects for interview purposes. The suspects were transported to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office for further questioning.
Trooper Bach acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions!
May | Corporal Joseph Sumner
Congratulations to Corporal Joseph Sumner for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2003, based on his excellent police work in the investigation of a DUI case turned Attempted Second Degree Murder.
On May 2, 2003, Corporal Sumner successfully arrested a suspect who was responsible for the near fatal injuries of his girlfriend when he struck her with his vehicle during a drunken altercation outside a local bar. Thanks to Corporal Sumner’s diligent efforts, the suspect was booked on attempted murder charges into the Gilchrist County Jail with a bond of $100,000. This arrest marked the end of a ten-week investigation that began with the initial incident, a seemingly simple DUI committed on February 7, 2003, at 2:35 A.M., when Corporal Sumner was dispatched to a traffic crash on U.S. 129 in rural Gilchrist County.
His investigation uncovered the fact that the couple had been arguing after consuming alcohol at the local establishment. Further, the victim left in the suspect’s car, but then stopped on the shoulder of the road a short distance from the bar. Later, the suspect drove away in his vehicle, leaving the woman on the side of the road. However, he then made a sharp U-turn, turning left toward the victim. After accelerating, he then struck her with the front of his vehicle, causing her serious bodily injury.
In the subsequent weeks that followed the incident, Corporal Sumner completed a thirty-page probable cause affidavit, and presented the case to the local State Attorney’s Office. His competence in this investigation led to the issuance of the arrest warrant for the suspect for his attempt on the life of the victim. If not for his efforts, this suspect would have faced only DUI charges, and may have escaped justice for this more serious crime.
Corporal Sumner acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions. We congratulate him on being selected as Trooper of the Month for May 2003! He is greatly appreciated!
June | Sergeant James Crawley, Trooper Thomas Ketterle, Trooper Eric Devaul, Trooper Robert Logan and Trooper Rafael Ugalde
On June 30th, Sergeant James Crawley, Troopers Thomas Ketterle, Eric Devaul, Robert Logan, and Rafael Ugalde were just finishing their work break at a local Denny’s in West Palm Beach, when they heard multiple gunshots coming from the IHOP parking lot down the street. The troopers responded on foot while Sgt. Crawley jumped in his patrol car. As the troopers entered the parking lot, a black 2000 Saturn with two occupants could be seen traveling through the parking lot.
Sgt. Crawley attempted to stop the fleeing vehicle. However, the shooting suspects sped through a Shell station parking lot and headed north to Kenwood drive. In their attempt to get away, the suspects failed to negotiate a turn, left the road and struck a building, causing minor damage to their vehicle. Both suspects then fled the scene on foot. Sgt. Crawley set up a perimeter to attempt to contain the suspects, and contacted units from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the West Palm Beach Police Department for assistance. After an exhaustive search of the area, the suspects were apprehended near I-95 and Okeechobee Road.
Meanwhile, the troopers saw a subject on foot in the parking area with a handgun, and immediately ordered him to the ground and disarmed him. This subject was later identified as the victim in the incident who had returned fire in self-defense. The situation was quickly stabilized as the troopers located witnesses and secured evidence at the scene.
Preliminary identification of the suspects in the car indicated that both were wanted on multiple charges regarding other shooting incidents and that the vehicle they were driving was stolen. The troopers who responded to this incident did so in an exemplary manner—while both on and off duty—stabilizing an extremely dangerous situation and assisting in the arrest of two violent criminals.
July | Trooper Eduardo Santos
Congratulations to Trooper Eduardo Santos for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for July 2003, based on his quick response and life-saving assistance involving the removal of an armed pedestrian on a state roadway.
On July 27th, Trooper Santos observed a white male, armed with a large padlock and knife, walking with his bike and dog on the southbound emergency lane of State Road 26. When he approached the subject to tell him to get off the expressway, the subject refused and continued walking into the southbound lanes of traffic. To prevent a vehicle from hitting the subject, Trooper Santos stopped traffic in the area. When the subject continued to ignore his requests to get off the roadway, he called for assistance.
When two local police officers arrived, the subject threw the padlock at them, and then picked up a rock and threw it at Santos. The subject then pointed his knife at the police officers in an aggressive manner. To protect the officers and to prevent the subject from injuring himself, Trooper Santos tackled him to the ground. The subject continued to resist by kicking and fighting until the knife was taken and he was handcuffed with the assistance of the other two officers. Even after sustaining an injury to his leg, Santos was able to apprehend the subject. His courage and ability to make good decisions in a dangerous situation not only saved the life of the subject, but prevented injury to two fellow law enforcement officers.
Trooper Santos acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions. He is greatly appreciated!
August | Trooper Dean Empie
Congratulations to Trooper Dean Empie for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Of Month award for August 2003, based on his quick response and assistance in saving the lives of two occupants in a motor vehicle.
On Saturday, August 2, 2003, Trooper Dean Empie responded to a B.O.L.O. for a driver who was possibly asleep or passed out at the wheel while traveling east on Interstate 4. Trooper Empie, while working S.O.A.R., was flagged down by a motorist and informed of the same information. Suddenly, Trooper Empie observed the suspect’s vehicle drifting across several lanes of traffic. Trooper Empie saw that a young female passenger was pulling on the steering wheel of the vehicle.
Next, Trooper Empie was able to pull along side the vehicle and see that the driver was passed out, his head tilted backwards, while the vehicle was traveling at 55 mph. Trooper Empie saw the young female passenger, who was screaming into a cell phone. Trooper Empie yelled “what is wrong with him” to the female passenger, and she replied, “He is drunk.” Trooper Empie then slowed down and pulled along side the passenger’s side of the vehicle and motioned to the female passenger to roll down her window and put the cell phone down because she would have to stop the vehicle herself. As a result of the instructions given by Trooper Empie, the young female was able to safely stop the vehicle in the center lane of I-4.
Further investigation revealed that the young female passenger was only twelve years old. The driver was so intoxicated that he had to be transported to Tampa General hospital for observation. Consequently, the driver was transported to the Hillsborough County Jail, and charged with DUI and Child Endangerment. Trooper Empie utilized his years of experience and knowledge to defuse an extremely dangerous situation. As a result, Trooper Empie’s quick actions definitely saved the lives of two occupants in the vehicle and who knows how many others on the roadway.
Trooper Empie acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions. Again, we congratulate him on being selected as recipient of the Trooper Of Month award for August 2003!
September | Corporal Lona Mitchell
Congratulations to Corporal Lona K. Mitchell for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2003, based on her diligent traffic homicide investigative efforts and exemplary courtroom presentation.
On September 11, 2003, thanks to Corporal Mitchell’s professional preliminary traffic homicide investigation and courtroom testimony, the individual responsible for the serious bodily injury of three occupants was found guilty of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and sentenced to seven years in state prison with ninety-four months of probation for his crime.
Based upon Corporal Mitchell’s investigation and excellent police work, Antonio Luiz Alcantara will serve time for grabbing the wheel of a vehicle in motion. His action caused the car to rollover multiple times-ejecting all the occupants, risking their lives and causing serious injury to these individuals.
Corporal Mitchell acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for her actions. She is greatly appreciated!
October | Trooper Sean Brammer
Congratulations to Trooper Sean Brammer for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for October 2003 based on his quick response and administration of CPR that saved the life of a fifteen year old boy.
While attending church services in Miramar last month, Trooper Brammer observed a teen-age boy collapse in his chair. He immediately responded and laid the boy on his back and checked for a pulse. Finding a faint pulse, Trooper Brammer attempted to revive him with smelling salts, but the boy did not respond. After finding no pulse, Trooper Brammer began CPR with the assistance of Marvelene Allen, a former dispatcher for the Miami Beach Police Department. During the second cycle of CPR, the boy began to breathe again. Soon after, Miramar Fire Rescue arrived to transport the teenager to Hollywood Memorial Hospital.
Trooper Sean Brammer acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his life saving actions! We sincerely thank him for his efforts–he is greatly appreciated!
November | Corporal Timothy Brown, Trooper Rafael Lola, Trooper Carlos Gascon and Trooper Jose Hernandez
Congratulations to Corporal Timothy Brown, Troopers Rafael Lola, Carlos Gascon, and Jose Hernandez for being selected as recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for November 2003, based on their team efforts in apprehending an armed carjacker while working a detail at the recent Free Trade Summit in Miami.
On November 18, 2003, the above listed FHP members from Troop E, were working the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in a Tactical Response Team (TRT) capacity when they were called upon to stop a crime in progress. When the team approached the intersection of Alton Road and 16th Street, a crowd of people ran up to an FHP vehicle in a panic. They advised the group of troopers that there was a carjacking in progress at the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts. The team immediately went into action. One of the witnesses pointed to one of the subjects involved in the carjacking–a white male carrying a black bag, who was seen walking away from the Dunkin Donuts into a nearby alley. As the troopers approached the subject, the subject threw the black bag into a dumpster.
The troopers exited their vehicles and ordered the subject to the ground. Corporal Brown, along with Troopers Hernandez and Gascon, covered the subject at gunpoint while Trooper Lola handcuffed him. It was discovered that the subject had a pair of his own handcuffs in his pocket. The subject was turned over to the Miami Beach Police Department for interrogation.
Later, it was discovered that the victim of the carjacking had been forced into the back seat of his vehicle by four white males, one of which was armed with a gun. As the victim resisted, one of the suspects struck him several times on his head with the firearm. The victim was able to escape the suspects, and ran back into the Dunkin Donuts to call for help. One of the suspects stole a black bag from the victim’s car while the other three suspects drove off in the victim’s car, which was later recovered several miles away by the Miami Beach Police Department.
Members of this team acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and are hereby commended for their actions.
December | Lieutenant Derrick Charleston
Congratulations to Lt. Derrick Charleston for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for December 2003, based on his quick performance of CPR, which saved the life of a Miami man.
On December 18, while working off-duty at a department store, Lt. Charleston heard a woman frantically yelling, “Call 911, he’s having a heart attack!” He ran toward the woman, finding a man lying face down on the floor. After discovering the subject was not breathing and had no pulse, Lt. Charleston immediately began CPR. With the assistance of the woman (the subject’s daughter), he performed four cycles of CPR before the subject regained consciousness. The City of Lauderhill Fire Rescue arrived and transported the man to the hospital. Because of Lt. Derrick Charleston’s quick and effective actions, the subject was resuscitated and survived. Lt. Charleston acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his heroic actions!