PORT RICHEY — Deputies know it as a Signal 2 — or drunken pedestrian. A typical call in their rounds. On Aug. 3, Deputy Craig Meissner went to McDonald's at Little Road and Embassy Boulevard where a belligerent man was yelling at customers and spitting on their cars. Then the call turned dangerous.
The man told deputies he had a gun. He wouldn't take his hands from his pockets.
Another deputy grabbed the man's wrists. Meissner came to help, but the man yanked him into the scuffle by his shirt.
Meissner punched the man in the head to subdue him. Eventually, the two deputies wrestled the man into handcuffs. Meissner broke his right hand at some point in the struggle and had to have surgery and therapy.
For this, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office gave Meissner a Purple Heart Medal last week at the agency's quarterly awards ceremony.
Other awards included:
Meritorious Service Medal for Courage
• Deputy John Brown helped stop a suspect who managed to kick out the window of his patrol car Jan. 3 on the way to the Land O'Lakes jail. The suspect, Osvaldo Flores, 30, looped his handcuffs around Brown's neck and was attempting to strangle him before a bystander, Anthony Stinnett, stepped in to help the deputy. The two then subdued Flores.
• Deputy Anthony Graham stopped a girl from cutting herself with a razor blade. He grabbed the girl by her wrists and took her into custody for mental health evaluation.
Meritorious Service Award
• Lt. Brian Prescott implemented the Intelligence-Led Policing philosophy at the agency over two years. His work included creating an extensive offender database and mapping probationer locations.
• Deputies Christine Dzikonski and John Thomas helped a woman whose car had flipped on Interstate 95. The deputies applied pressure to the woman's bleeding head wound and calmed her until paramedics arrived.
• Lindsay D'Ascenzio, a child protective investigator, supported the family of a mentally disabled and mentally ill 14-year-old-boy who had several run-ins with the law. D'Ascenzio ensured that the boy was admitted to lock-down residential mental health care after his arrest.
• Deputy Ryan Nye gave chest compressions to an unconscious 55-year-old man until paramedics arrived to take the man to a local hospital.
• Deputies Keith Dillon and Patrick Marshello kept a Land O'Lakes jail inmate from strangling himself in his cell. The deputies cut away a makeshift rope that the inmate had made from his bedding.
• Deputy Daniel Berberich and 11-year-old Brittney Barrett helped save Brittney's 18-month-old brother's life. Brittney pulled the infant from a pool and Berberich slapped the child on his back, making him spit up water he'd swallowed.
• Deputy Joshua Peters deployed his Taser to stop a man from slitting his own throat.
• Deputies Sascha Vanderwaall, Travis Gondek and Russell Hemmendinger broke into a house, where an unverified 911 call had been made, to save a 17-year-old girl who was overdosing on medication.
• Lt. Stacey Jenkins, Cpl. Lawrence Warden, Deputies Durriel Aiken, Jeffrey Johnson, Patrick DeSousa, Katrina Pereira, and Sean Powers, and nurses Dina Erickson, Victoria Bromwell and Tammy Farrell saved an inmate from an apparent suicide attempt. They found the inmate in a noose fashioned from a pillow case. They cut the makeshift rope and gave the inmate CPR until paramedics arrived.
Sheriff's Special Service Award
• Cpls. David Rodriguez and Mary Guyer organized the Law Enforcement Torch Run in Dade City for the Special Olympics. The two recruited members from other agencies and county schools for the largest Torch Run turnout ever in Pasco County.
• Frank Darienzo, who works in the property section at the Land O'Lakes jail, was honored for his ability to spot contraband items, including narcotics and weapons among inmates' property. Most recently, he found a switchblade in a purse.
• Detective James Berberich helped the Intelligence-Led Policing section and road patrol deputies make arrests in several burglaries earlier this year.
• Detention Deputy Kurt Gardner supervised inmates on projects including building two evidence containers for the Clerk of the Court and removing damaged furniture, carpet and drywall at the Sheriff's Office after Tropical Storm Debbie.
• Damien Linebaugh and Nicolas Sanchez, both emergency medical technicians, helped a deputy arrest a fleeing suspect. The two saw the deputy struggling with the suspect at a McDonald's and helped subdue the suspect so the deputy could put him in handcuffs.
Contact Alex Orlando at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.