The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office honored a deputy who was shot in the line of duty with the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. Deputy Herman Michael Villalobos Garcia was awarded the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery for his heroism in the line of duty.
The award is given to law enforcement officers who performed exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty and presented by the recipients’ congressional representatives.
Garcia received his award Jan. 27 from U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman. Garcia, 29, is one of only 12 local law enforcement officers to receive the award in the program’s first year.
He was given the award for his response to a 2 a.m. shooting on Aug. 8, 2010, at the Stagecoach Saloon in Franktown. Garcia was in the area on patrol, filling in on a shift he had volunteered for extra duty. Dispatch had radioed that the suspect, Richard Anderson, was northbound on Parker Road and Garcia positioned himself to pull up behind Anderson.
When Anderson pulled over, he immediately got out of his vehicle and began firing at Garcia. Garcia took a bullet to the arm and got behind his patrol car. Anderson emptied his gun on the patrol car, firing 13 rounds at Garcia. When Anderson stopped to reload his gun, Garcia stepped out and shot Anderson two times.
Garcia secured the scene and waited for his backup. When he called in for help, he was later told it sounded as if he was making a call to order a sandwich.
“They told me I sounded very calm,” Garcia said. “It was the most intense pain I’d ever felt.”
Garcia started with the sheriff’s office as a 17-year-old Explorer and is a 2001 graduate of Highlands Ranch High School. His parents got the early-morning phone call that he had been wounded in the line of duty, and his father Herman Garcia describes the walk down the hospital hallway as the longest walk of his life.
The saving grace was the family of officers waiting at the end of the hallway, Herman Garcia said.
“They were all there. Every commanding officer, the chaplain, his entire sheriff’s office family,” he said. “I knew he was in good hands.”
Mike Garcia’s mother Mary Helen Garcia resolved to be strong for her son and never left his side during his long hospital stay. She refused to cry in front of him because she “wanted to be as strong as he was,” she said.
Mary Garcia held her tears until award day. When her son got his congressional award, he also got his original sheriff’s badge returned to him. The badge that he received the day he was deputized was taken as evidence in the case against Anderson. It was released from the evidence locker in time for the awards ceremony.
Sheriff David Weaver asked the U.S. representatives, senators and elected officials to line up while Garcia’s mother pinned the badge on his chest, tears on her face.
“Someone tried to tarnish it, but they never will,” Weaver said. “You’re getting your badge back.”