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For Immediate Release

Contact:
September 15, 2011 Eastern District of California
Deputy Jason Ferrell (559) 487-5559
Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

Sacramento, CA – On September 14, 2011, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. awarded the Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor to 13 public safety officers. One of the recipients was Fresno County Sheriff Deputy Robert McEwen who is assigned to the U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force (PSWRFTF) in Fresno, CA. Deputy McEwen was awarded the state’s highest public safety medal because of his actions during a gun fight that took place in the small town of Minkler, CA. In attendance at the ceremony was United States Marshal Albert Najera for the Eastern District of California.

“These officers embody bravery and selflessness and we thank them for their courageous acts in the face of tremendous danger,” said Governor Brown. “Their actions set an example for all Californians.”

“Every public safety officer that wears a uniform shows remarkable strength, courage and sacrifice,” Attorney General Harris said. “The 13 heroes we honor with the Medal of Valor have gone above and beyond their call of duty and all Californians are thankful for their extraordinary bravery.”

On February 25, 2010, Detective McEwen and a warrant entry team were serving a search warrant related to arson and shots fired into inhabited dwellings. The team approached the residence after several attempts to call suspect out of the residence went unanswered. After announcing their presence, the entry team breached an exterior door, and gained entry into an enclosed porch. As Detective McEwen and Detective Joel Wahlenmaier prepared to breach the inner door into the residence, the suspect opened fire on the Detectives through the closed door. Detective Wahlenmaier was immediately struck by rounds and was grievously wounded. Detective McEwen instinctively covered Detective Wahlenmaier with his body to protect him from further harm.

During the rescue effort Detective Wahlenmaier’s equipment belt was caught on a broken piece of door frame and caused a dangerous delay. Detective McEwen assisted in providing cover fire for the personnel working to free Detective Wahlenmaier.

Fresno County Sheriff’s Detective Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedly Police Officer Javier Bejar both lost their lives during this incident. The suspect, Ricky Liles, eventually took his own life during the gunfight.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

Fresno County Sheriff Deputy Robert McEwen Fresno County Sheriff Deputy Robert McEwen with award

 

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