Newsom honors Fil-Am officer with Medal of Valor

Officer Michael Panlilio and his Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor award | Photo courtesy of California Highway Patrol

A Filipino American California Highway Patrol officer was honored this week after risking his life to recover a slain police officer in Sacramento.

Officer Michael Panlilio was one of eight law enforcement personnel awarded a Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor by Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a virtual ceremony on Monday, January 25.

The medal is the highest state award for valor awarded to a public safety officer.

“For his extraordinary bravery, heroism and courage in the face of imminent and personal life-threatening peril, Officer Panlilio’s actions were above and beyond the call of duty and exemplify the highest standards of a California public safety officer,” a release from the governor’s office said.

On June 19, 2019, Panlilio responded to a call from the Sacramento Police Department after officer Tara O’Sullivan was shot at a residence.

When he arrived at the scene, the suspect, who was using a high-power rifle to shoot from an elevated position, barricaded himself inside the home and used security cameras to monitor movement.

Despite the gunfire, the officer “entered an armored vehicle, which came under fire as it breached the backyard fence and was positioned between the gunman and Officer O’Sullivan,” the release said.

Panlilio and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Nielsen left their place of safety, retrieved Officer O’Sullivan and carried her back into the armored vehicle. However, the vehicle became disabled so Panlilio carried the fallen officer approximately 30 feet away to another patrol vehicle that drove them to UC Davis Medical Center.

While en route, Panlilio reportedly performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on O’Sullivan, but the latter succumbed to her injuries.

Other officers honored include individuals with the Gilroy Police Department, Hawthorne Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department. Newsom also awarded the California Military Department Medal of Valor to seven members of the California National Guard.

“Today’s Medal of Valor honorees demonstrated unparalleled heroism in service to their communities, risking their own safety to save lives,” said Newsom. “Their actions are an inspiration to all of us and we offer our deep reverence and gratitude to these extraordinary individuals for the sacrifices they make every day to protect their fellow Californians.” (AJPress)

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