Five Lodi Police Department officers have received some of the highest medals law enforcement officials can attain for their actions during a disturbance and standoff last year.
Officer Stephen Mindt was the recipient of the Medal of Valor and Purple Heart during the department’s annual awards ceremony on Thursday at Hutchins Street Square’s Kirst Hall.
Joining Mindt were sergeants Elias Ambriz and Regan Porteous, as well as Cpl. William Hinton and Officer Joseph Thornburg, all of whom received the Bronze Star.
On the evening of April 4, 2022, officers responded to a disturbance at an apartment in the 500 block of Pioneer Drive regarding an occupant threatening another person with a sword.
Upon arrival, officers located a man armed with a knife, who ultimately took an infant hostage.
Officers surrounded the apartment and contacted the man outside the apartment several times before he retreated inside with the child, Chief Sierra Brucia said.
A standoff ensued and the department’s SWAT unit was activated. After several hours of failed negotiation with the man, his behavior became highly erratic, Brucia said.
The SWAT team determined he did not plan to surrender or release the child, as he exited the apartment several times, using the child as a shield while armed with a knife, Brucia said. An initial attempt to gain entry into the apartment was unsuccessful, Brucia said, but a second attempt was made by a team consisting of Ambriz, Hinton, Mindt and Thornburg.
Ambriz asked for a volunteer to be the first up a ladder to a second-story window. Whoever went first would have to break the window’s glass and enter the apartment. They would also be alone inside the apartment for several seconds while the other three team members climbed the ladder and entered.
Mindt volunteered, climbed the ladder and shattered the window. Because he was concerned for the child’s safety, Mindt threw himself through the shattered glass, and in the process, sustained several substantial lacerations to his body, including a severed tendon, Brucia said.
“Officer Mindt was un-phased by his injuries and began to clear the apartment before other members even entered the window,” he said. “He searched for the child and suspect and ultimately located them inside a locked bathroom. Mindt forced the door open and found the suspect had the child in a bear-hug position and was actively squeezing her. It was believed that the suspect was attempting to suffocate the child.”
Once inside the bathroom, Mindt, Ambriz, Porteous, Hinton and Thornburg all fought with the suspect until the child could be pulled from his grasp. Porteous was able to grab the child and ran her to safety outside of the apartment, Brucia said.
Throughout the ordeal, Brucia said Mindt was bleeding from several wounds and was ordered to seek medical attention while other SWAT members took the suspect into custody. However, Mindt refused, and continued to help the unit arrest the suspect, Brucia said.
Only after the suspect was detained and the apartment was cleared was Officer Mindt transported to the hospital to receive treatment for his injuries,” Brucia said. “The bravery and teamwork exhibited that day allowed this incident to come to a successful conclusion.”
The officers did not speak about their actions during Thursday’s ceremony.
They were five of 43 honored with 25 awards Thursday during the one of he departments largest ceremonies.
Brucia said those honored Thursday were being recognized for the dedication to the Lodi community, the department and to each other.
“I think you saw that today through what you heard about them, what you’ve read about them,” he said. “It’s bittersweet, but I’m so proud of each and every single one of these employees, that I could not be prouder to lead this fine group of people.”