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Chicago police officers honored for stopping a knife-wielding man

A man with a 10-inch butcher knife was shot to death last year by Chicago police after he stabbed an officer and a civilian.

Sgt. Angela Salgado (left) and Officer Pete Gurskis were awarded officers of the month for their efforts to stop a knife-wielding man last year. The officers said they had no other option but to use deadly force. Sergeant Angela Salgado (left) and Officer Pete Gurskis stand with their awards at the Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union in West Loop, Tuesday morning, Oct. 12, 2021.
Sgt. Angela Salgado (left) and Officer Pete Gurskis were awarded officers of the month for their efforts to stop a knife-wielding man last year.
Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Three Chicago police officers were honored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation for shooting and killing a knife-wielding man last year who was “intent to kill,” the officers said.

The incident, which happened at near 49th Street and Lavergne Avenue near Midway Airport in September 2020, was recorded on body-camera footage and shows a man, later identified as 34-year-old Shaon Jermy Ochea Warner, refusing to comply with officers’ orders to “put your hands up.”

The video also shows Warner walking toward Sgt. Angela Salgado with a plastic bag in his hand. Salgado tases him, Warner falls to the ground with the bag dropping to his side and revealing Warner holding onto 10-inch butcher knife.

“I knew that he just wasn’t going to listen to what we were telling him to do, and I knew this was going to have to end up the way I didn’t want it to end up, but there was no other choice. It was life or death,” Officer Pete Gurskis recalled.

Gurskis, along with Salgado and Officer Richard Johnson had received a call of aggravated battery with a knife.

Video of the shooting, released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, shows the knife-wielding man charging at Sgt. Salgado.
COPA

As Warner held onto the knife, Gurskis yells, “Put the f——— knife down, drop the f———knife!” Despite being tased, Warner springs to his feet and charges at Salgado. Footage then shows Warner grabbing her vest and thrusting the knife at her multiple times, puncturing her police vest, and once stabbing her in the lower abdomen.

In the video, Salgado can be heard screaming for help.

“It was probably the scariest night of my life,” she said Tuesday. “I’m just so grateful for these guys saving my life, because he wasn’t going to stop.”

While Warner stabbed at Salgado, Gurskis and Johnson fire a total of 21 bullets at Warner, records show. Gurskis fired 12 times; Johnson, who has since retired, fired nine.

“We didn’t want it to go this way, but it just happened,” Gurskis told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Officer Pete Gurskis said that he had “no other choice” but to use deadly force on the man. Officer Pete Gurskis stands with his award at the Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union in West Loop, Tuesday morning, Oct. 12, 2021.
Officer Pete Gurskis said he had “no other choice” but to use deadly force on the man.
Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Warner had stabbed one man in the hand and attempted to stab two others before police arrived at the scene, the officers said.

“The guy that he stabbed in the hand, his hand was filleted open,” Gurskis said. “You see the tendons and all that stuff in the hands. It wasn’t just the scrape of the knife. He was intent on trying to kill somebody that night.”

Philip Cline, executive director of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, awarded the three officers “officer of the month” for risking their lives to “stop a dangerous knife-wielding offender from injuring other citizens,” he said.

“She’s a very lucky lady,” he said of Salgado.

Salgado said the incident was “the scariest night of her life.” Angela Salgado receives her award at the Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union in West Loop, Tuesday morning, Oct. 12, 2021.
Salgado said the incident was “the scariest night of her life.”
Mark Capapas/Sun-Times

Gurskis and Salgado said, above all else, people should listen to police officers’ commands.

“Just listen to what we tell you to do and things will de-escalate real simple by themselves,” Gurskis said. “We don’t have to do this, but people just don’t want to listen.”

Salgado said she and her partners’ actions were simply just another day on the job.

“This is something that we do every day,” she said. “We know that our lives are in danger every day we put on this uniform, and I’m just lucky that God was on my side that night.”