St. Paul police officer Dave Longbehn, who was involved in a deadly hand-to-hand struggle with a murder suspect, was honored Thursday night with the department's highest award, the Medal of Valor.
He fatally shot the suspect who had killed a Maplewood police officer.
Longbehn received the award at a dinner ceremony attended by city and police officials, where he was the guest of honor and sole award recipient.
On May 1, Longbehn was among many police officers who responded when Maplewood Sgt. Joe Bergeron, 49, was shot and killed. Longbehn confronted Jason J. Jones, 21, who attacked Longbehn, hitting him in the face with a heavy metal object wrapped in cloth. The two struggled for Longbehn's gun, but Longbehn eventually fatally shot Jones.
The attack broke Longbehn's nose and facial bones, and the officer bore the dark bruises and injuries long after the attack.
As it turned out, Jones had killed Bergeron when Bergeron responded to a carjacking call involving Jones and his friend, Joshua M. Martin.
"Officer Longbehn didn't hesitate to risk his own life to save others," said Police Chief Thomas Smith. "His heroic actions led to the capture of Sgt. Bergeron's murderer and ensured that no other officers or citizens would be hurt."
Martin later pleaded guilty to intentional second-degree murder and kidnapping. Martin admitted in court that he distracted Bergeron as the officer sat in his squad car, and that Jones then reached in and shot him in the head.