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.
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.
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.
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.”