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Citizen honored for coming to aid of police officer
A civilian who came to the aid of a police officer while she was struggling with an aggressive male subject has been commended for his actions.
Charles Rivers was honored for his “uncommon valor” during Wednesday's Yuma City Council meeting, receiving a Citizen's Medal of Valor, recognition by the Fraternal Order of Police and a check and big thank you from 78-Crime Stoppers.
“From the bottom of my heart, I can't thank you enough,” said Sgt. Eric Egan, head of the Fraternal Order of Police. “We're immensely grateful for your help.”
Added Deb Sullins of 78-Crime Stoppers, “You've definitely made the community a safer place to live.”
The accolades didn't stop there.
After receiving his recognition as well as two checks in appreciation of his action, Rivers was thanked profusely by the men and women of Yuma Police Department for “having the back” of one of their own in a situation that could have ended in tragedy.
“His name will be remembered for a long time,” said Chief John Lekan. “We depend on the community to watch our back and report things to us. In this case he came to the aid of an officer.”
About 9 p.m. July 19, Lt. Karla Simmons spotted a man identified as 52-year-old Ricky Stephens in the 300 block of Giss Parkway. As she approached him, Stephens allegedly became aggressive and would not comply with verbal commands.
The officer used an Electronic Control Device in an attempt to gain compliance but the device malfunctioned, Lekan said. Stephens then allegedly punched the officer in the head and placed her in a headlock.
Rivers had been observing the scene unfold from across the street and ran to Simmons' aid. He was able to divert Stephens' attention long enough for Simmons to free herself. Shortly thereafter, additional YPD officers as well as Border Patrol agents arrived on the scene and finally were able to subdue Stephens after a struggle in which one officer was injured and shocking him with their ECDs five times, according to Yuma Sun archives.
Stephens was charged with numerous felony charges for aggravated assault.
Judging by his super human strength, his aggressiveness and his high tolerance to pain, Stephens likely was under the influence of some substance such as bath salts, Lekan said. However, he doesn't have confirmation of that.
“Thank God Rivers was in the vicinity and came to the officer's aid,” Lekan said. “He ran across the street and jumped into the fray. In my opinion he prevented a serious tragedy.”