Officer Matt Pearce received the Fort Worth Police Department’s top award Thursday night — the Medal of Honor for heroism — but he knows it wouldn’t have mattered much without his fellow officers.
“I wouldn’t have this award without them,” Pearce said, “because without them, I wouldn’t have ever made it out of that field.”
Pearce was shot five times March 15 while chasing two suspects through a wooded, brushy area of west Fort Worth.
When he was shot, several officers were immediately there to save him.
Sgt. Cory Luttmer fatally shot the suspect, Ed McIver Sr., who had fired at Pearce as the officer tried to climb through a barbed wire fence.
Officer Brandi Kamper provided emergency aid, even though she was wearing civilian clothes that day and had to catch a ride to the scene from the SWAT team.
Officer James Minter cut through Pearce’s clothes, helping Kamper. And Cpl. Jason Ricks applied a tourniquet to slow Pearce’s bleeding.
Luttmer (Medal of Valor), Kamper (Medal of Commendation), Ricks (Lifesaving Award) and Minter (Lifesaving Award) were also honored Thursday night at the department’s Exceptional Act Awards ceremony at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex.
Dozens of other officers, plus several civilians, received awards for various actions throughout 2016.
For each award, a presenter told the story behind it.
For Pearce, it was a retelling of the day he nearly died.
He was the first officer to start chasing the suspects — McIver and his son, Ed McIver Jr. — when they bailed out of their car near Chapin Road and Longvue Avenue.
Pearce pursued the men into a pasture. As he stepped through a barbed wire fence, the elder McIver approached him quickly and began firing at him with a handgun, said Lt. Brian Keenum, who presented Pearce’s Medal of Honor.
“He was struck five times and left for dead,” Keenum told the crowd Thursday night.
Behind Pearce, Sgt. Luttmer was trudging through the brush, trying to find him.
“You couldn’t see 20 yards,” said officer Gordon Jones, who was with Luttmer that day and presented him with his award.
Jones called Luttmer “the hero that day.”
From about 100 yards out — and with a pistol, Jones pointed out — Luttmer struck the elder McIver twice, ending the immediate threat to Pearce.
But by the time Kamper reached Pearce, he was badly wounded.
“I just kept finding holes in him,” she later told Sgt. Rachel Dehoyos, who presented Kamper’s award.
Minter and Ricks helped Kamper with first aid on Pearce before they were able to get him to a CareFlite helicopter, which took him to John Peter Smith Hospital.
Almost a year later, Pearce still has a tiny bandage on the side of his face, and he has months of physical therapy ahead.
He returned to work in October, easing into it a few hours a week at the department’s Tactical Medic Unit, which was revived after Kamper’s emergency aid skills saved Pearce’s life.
Now Pearce is working up to 24 hours a week.
“It’s hard,” he said Thursday night, “but I keep getting stronger.”
Other award winners
Medal of Valor: Officers Jose Reyes and Steve Partain.
Certificate of Merit: Officers Fernando Reyes, Amy Olson and Cole Brock.
Distinguished Service Award: Officer Damon Cole and Detective Joel Harter.
Chief’s Letter of Recognition: Officers John Martin, Robert Sims, Aaron Scholl, Cooper Madigan, Brad Perez, Nicole Garcia, Tracey Carter, Thomas Ragster and Sgt. Roy Hudson.
Lifesaving Award: Officers Lindwall Mitchell, Cole Brock, Alexander Marti, Jeffrey Neal, Kendall Harris, Johnny Cox, Christian Magallon, Kyle Averett, Edwin Hayden, Nicolas Guadarrama, Thomas Stackhouse, Walter Watkins, Justin Walsh, Carlos Zelaya, Jennifer Bell, Augustus Green, Thomas Nowicki and Drue Pope; Sgts. Jeffrey Brady and Kathi Jones; Cpl. Dustin Shaw; and Lt. Richard Simmons.
Civilian appreciation awards: Alicia Coy, Frank Price, Byron Holloway, Diana Ortiz-Flores, John Finder and Greg Hurst.