OHP Troopers Honored with Purple Heart Awards
Five OHP Troopers from Troop A in Oklahoma City were honored today with Purple Heart Awards for exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty. The awards were presented by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Thompson and OHP Chief Ricky Adams at Troop A headquarters.
“It’s an honor for us to recognize these people and the tremendous cost that goes with the responsibility of protecting and serving the public,” Adams said. “These individuals have paid a great cost and we are very grateful that they survived their ordeals and are still with us today. They will always carry the scars from these experiences and the Purple Heart Award is just a token of our appreciation for the exceptional service they have rendered to the state of Oklahoma.”
Trooper Dennis Dickens #563
On July 26, 2013, Trooper Dickens was operating as pilot-in-command of an OHP aircraft while searching for a suspect who had fled from a nearby accident scene on foot. During the flight, he was able to spot the suspect from the air and begin guiding nearby officers to the suspect’s location. While performing flight operations, the aircraft entered an aerodynamic stall and crashed in an open field near the intersection of State Highway 9 and State Highway 102 in Pottawatomie County. Dickens suffered multiple fractures and other critical injuries, requiring multiple surgeries and almost 21 months of recovery prior to returning to duty in 2015.
Trooper Jason Richardson #367
On January 19, 2016, Trooper Richardson was investigating a collision that had occurred on Interstate 40 near the 180 mile marker, approximately one mile west of Shawnee. Richardson was outside his unit, on foot in the center median. A vehicle approaching from the west lost control on an icy bridge and slid into the center median backwards. The vehicle vaulted over the center cable barrier and struck Richardson. He was released back to work on Oct. 3, 2016.
Trooper Steven Johnson #808
On October 2, 2007, at approximately 11:15 a.m., Trooper Johnson was on duty and riding an OHP motorcycle southbound on Pennsylvania Avenue near Northwest 32nd Street in Oklahoma City. While riding southbound in the outside lane of the four-lane street, a Nissan Pathfinder operated by a civilian changed lanes into the path of Trooper Johnson’s motorcycle, resulting in a collision and loss of control of the motorcycle. Johnson suffered multiple injuries, resulting in an extended recovery. The driver of the other vehicle was cited for changing lanes unsafely.
Trooper Chris Bunch #313, Trooper Ryan Smith #629
Shortly after midnight on January 25, 2014, Trooper Bunch attempted to make a traffic stop on SE Grand Avenue at I-35 in Oklahoma City, on a vehicle that had failed to stop at a stop sign. The driver, Zachary Sumner, attempted to elude Bunch by entering the northbound lanes of I-35. A short time later, Trooper Ryan Smith and Trooper Brandon Seward joined the pursuit northbound on I-35, during which time the suspect fired gunshots from the driver’s window toward the Troopers and toward passing traffic.
The pursuit continued north on I-35 to I-40, where the suspect traveled eastbound at speeds of up to 100 mph while also ramming three civilian vehicles. The suspect then exited I-40 at Sunnylane Road, where Bunch attempted a tactical vehicle intervention, causing the suspect vehicle to lose control. The suspect exited the vehicle and fled into a residential area, with Bunch and Seward chasing him on foot. Smith drove his patrol unit into the path of the running suspect to cut off his escape, at which the suspect fired gunshots, striking Smith in the face. The suspect then turned his weapon toward Bunch and Seward and exchanged gunfire, wounding Bunch in the thigh. The suspect was shot and killed by the Troopers in the exchange of gunfire.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater stated in his clearance letter that the Troopers “continued to perform their duties without regard for their own safety. The Troopers demonstrated exemplary tactics and behavior during this violent series of events” and that “Sumner gave the Troopers no choice but to employ deadly force to defend themselves.”