ALBANY, NY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Trooper Joel R. Davis of the New York State Police was posthumously honored with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services’ Lifesaving Award for his role in responding to a violent domestic dispute in Jefferson County on July 9, 2017. When Trooper Davis arrived at the scene in the town of Theresa, he engaged a gunman as a woman and two children sought refuge in a nearby shed. During the incident, Trooper Davis was fatally shot. The award was presented to Trooper Davis’ family this morning at a ceremony at the State Police’s Watertown station, where fellow Troopers also unveiled a marker in his memory.
“Trooper Davis epitomizes the courage and bravery that characterizes the New York State Police and first responders,” Governor Cuomo said. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I am proud to honor Trooper Davis for his service, heroic actions and selfless sacrifice to protect the public.”
Michael C. Green, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, presented the 2017 Lifesaving Award to Trooper Davis’ three children, who accepted the award on behalf of other family members in attendance: Trooper Davis’ wife, his parents and brother. Following that presentation, members of the State Police who worked with Trooper Davis remembered their colleague and unveiled the memorial marker, which states, in part, “Our Friend and Co-Worker. Always Remembered. Never Forgotten.” Trooper Davis, 36, spent his entire law enforcement career serving in Jefferson County. A four-year veteran of the State Police who also served with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Trooper Davis was the first trooper killed in the line of duty in the North Country.
The Governor’s Police Officer of the Year Award Selection Committee established the Lifesaving Award in 2016 to recognize officers who perform courageous and unselfish acts that result in the saving of a human life or lives. The Committee selects the recipient or recipients from nominations submitted for the Police Officer of the Year Award, which recognizes a single police officer or team of officers for an exceptional act of valor; that award has been presented since 1984.
Executive Deputy Commissioner Green, who also chairs the Police Officer of the Year Selection Committee, said, “Without question, Trooper Davis’ selfless actions in response to this chaotic, violent incident saved the lives of a woman who had been wounded and two children as they were fired upon by the gunman. His actions in the face of imminent danger epitomize the spirit of this award.”
New York State Police Superintendent George Beach II said, “Trooper Davis recognized a lethal threat and, without pause or concern for his personal safety, sprang into action to protect the lives of the innocent. His selfless actions shielded the lives of three individuals, who may have been killed without his intervention. This is the type of bravery we have come to expect and depend on in our troopers – the courage and self-sacrifice that should set the standard for all who carry our shield.”
At 8:24 p.m. on July 9, 2017, Trooper Davis was the first officer to respond to a violent domestic dispute. Upon arriving, he observed a gunman firing an assault weapon into a shed. Despite the threat to his safety, he emerged from a hedgerow that had been concealing his location and engaged the shooter. Trooper Davis was struck by a .223-calliber round that penetrated an area of his chest not covered by his protective vest, fatally wounding him. The gunman surrendered to Troopers who had subsequently arrived on the scene.
During a search of the scene, the gunman’s wife was found deceased from gunshot wounds. A friend of hers – who had suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to her back – and two children were found hiding in the shed. The gunman is awaiting trial on murder and other charges in connection with the incident.
The Police Officer of the Year Selection Committee also named eight members of the Port Authority Police Department as 2017 Lifesaving Award recipients. Lt. Miriam Rubio, Sgts. Hector Martinez and Victor Talamini and Officers Jack Collins, Anthony Estevez, Sean Gallagher, Anthony Manfredini and Drew Preston were recognized for their actions following the detonation of a bomb at a New York City Subway station near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan on Dec. 11, 2017. That award ceremony is scheduled for later this year.