Officer Ashley Kelley Patrol Officer of the Month

Tom Kennedy, Editor
HPOU’s Luis Menendez-Sierra presents Officer Ashley Kelley with Patrol Officer of the Month honors. Photo by Gary Hicks

HPOU presented the Patrol Officer of the Month honor to Officer Ashley Kelley of the South Gessner Division in its April general membership meeting. Recognizing Kelley’s decisive actions when a suspect physically attacked her aggressively enough that she feared for her life.

Last Nov. 14 Kelley responded to a call on Beechnut concerning an aggressive male wrapped in a flag who was banging on cars and had actually assaulted two citizens. The male, lying down in the grass on the median, resisted when Kelley tried to handcuff him.

Sgt. Luis Menendez-Sierra detailed what then happened to the officer, who was outweighed by at least 60 pounds. “The suspect kicked her forcefully in the shin. The officer then leaned down to try to roll the suspect over to handcuff him, but when she did the suspect grabbed her and pulled her to the ground. At that point, the suspect began a full-on violent assault against the officer, pulling her in a headlock and punching her repeatedly in the face and head.

“The suspect was laying on the top of the officer’s body, which initially prevented her from being able to gain access to the weapons on her duty belt. Officer Kelley believed that the suspect was going to continue the attack until he killed her.”

But that didn’t happen. As Kelley pushed the emergency button on her radio, she also was able to use her legs to move into position to grab her taser. She used the taser as a baton and struck the suspect five or six times. The suspect was momentarily stunned but got up off the ground about the same time the officer got up.

The suspect was poised to attack Kelley again when she tased him; however, the dart failed to penetrate the man’s clothing. The officer back-pedaled across the street as the suspect, undaunted, closed in on her. Kelley pulled her pistol and warned the violent attacker that she would open fire if she had to.

“Unfazed, the suspect continued coming toward Officer Kelley,” Sgt. Menendez-Sierra said. “Fearing that the suspect was going to attack her again and was intent on killing her or doing serious bodily injury to her, Officer Kelley fired one shot, striking the suspect in the chest.”

The suspect dropped to the ground as a Precinct 5 constable and HPD back-up arrived. Kelley, suffering from bruising and abrasions to her head, face, lips, elbow and knee, kept her cool. She handcuffed the suspect and went to her patrol car to get first aid gear she used to treat the wounded suspect. The wounded man was transported to a hospital, where he died.

The 5-foot-3 patrol officer had survived a violent attack by fighting off an overly aggressive 6-foot-tall suspect who seemed intent on killing her. The applause of her colleagues verified their belief that she deserved Patrol Officer of the Month honors.