At about 1:40 a.m. on March 16, a young man on a 2007 Suzuki BT-800 motorcycle capped off a night of red-light running by barreling through yet another red light at the intersection of Auburn Way South and Highway 18.
Where he smashed into a car that was just then making a turn from Auburn Way South onto westbound Highway 18.
The violence of the collision instantly severed one of the motorcyclist’s legs below the knee. When Auburn Police Officers Devin Nelson, Joshua Kwake and Alyssa Slate arrived at the scene moments later, they coolly applied tourniquets to stanch the man’s bleeding injuries.
When Medic One arrived at the scene, its personnel said later, they found Officer Slate holding the man’s head to minimize the effects of any spinal injury, and talking to him to assure him he was going be OK.
Medic One later confirmed the officers had applied the tourniquets exactly where they needed to be to save the young man’s life.
On Monday night at City Hall, Auburn Police Chief William Pierson honored Nelson and Kwake with a Life Saving Award, which the APD gives to any officer who, while performing his or her functions out in the field, “goes to the extreme and the extraordinary” to save a life.
Officer Slate was not at the ceremony.
Likewise, Merit Awards went to Officers David Lind, Brian Anderson and Mike McNabb and to Sgt. Brandon Skeen for “showing excellence in the area of tactical operations,” Pierson said. He said that that award does not distinguish between SWAT operations or for “just using good, sound judgment and tactics in the field” as an officer or a detective.
“We find those cases to be extraordinary, and at times they are scary and are associated with a lot of danger,” Pierson said of incidents deserving the Merit Award.
Here is a brief summary of what Officers Lind and Anderson and Sgt. Skeen did.
On April 4, 2018, Officers Lind and Anderson. and Sgt. Skeen were a part of the Valley Swat Team when it responded to a man who had barricaded himself inside a home in Federal Way after fleeing the scene of an accident. Inside the home, the man had armed himself with several firearms he’d found there.
During the standoff, Pierson said, the man showed his willingness to use lethal force against officers, firing at them from the attic space and through the roof as they were deploying gas. After 10 hours, the SWAT Team found where the guy was hiding, and with the help of night-vision goggles, entered the home to clear it. As they entered, the man began firing rounds at the officers with a pistol.
Ultimately, the suspect was apprehended without injury to any personnel on scene.
“These officers have a variety of experiences, but I can say this: they are all the utmost professionals,” Pierson said of all the awardees.