Lodi Detective Eric Bradley received the highest public safety award in the state Tuesday morning when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown awarded him the Medal of Valor. He accepted it along with nine other officers from around the state at a ceremony in the governor's council room.
"It is a great honor to be recognized with my fellow officers," Bradley said. "It reminds me of how grateful I am for my training."
Bradley accepted the award for saving the life of Judge Cinda Fox, who was attacked in court by murder suspect David Paradiso in March 2009. Paradiso was on the stand for the murder of his girlfriend when he pulled out a shank he had concealed in a leg brace and attempted to stab the judge.
Bradley shot Paradiso in the head, killing him.
Schwarzenegger draped the medal over Bradley, who was the only officer who received a standing ovation while receiving his award.
"There's something about Eric. There is something about the circumstances of that day," Lodi Police Capt. J.P. Badel said. "He literally saved her life. Without him, she wouldn't be here today."
The Lodi Police Department nominated Bradley for the award, Badel said. He is the first Lodi officer to receive the honor.
A nine-person panel of law enforcement officers selected Bradley and the other nine winners from 62 nominations. Then Brown signed off on the award winners.
Before presenting the awards, Schwarzenegger said while he may be a movie star hero, the 10 officers are true-life heroes.
"It is extraordinary, the heroism. ... Hollywood would not believe these stories are really real," Schwarzenegger said.
In April, Fox attended a council meeting to thank Bradley while he received the Silver Star, the Lodi department's second-highest award.
She also attended Tuesday's Medal of Valor ceremony, and stood up to receive applause from the crowd.
During the final standing ovation, Bradley walked across the aisle to give Fox a hug, and afterwards they posed for pictures with the governor.
"I think it's particularly poignant with Judge Fox here," interim City Manager Rad Bartlam said.
New details on what happened after Paradiso stabbed the judge were included in the governor's news release for the Medal of Valor event.
Bradley's actions to save Fox's life all happened in six seconds on March 4, 2009.
Paradiso was on trial for stabbing and killing Eileen Pelt on Dec. 4, 2007 in Lodi.
Bradley, the lead investigating officer in the homicide case, was seated behind the prosecution table.
Paradiso was testifying in his own defense on the witness stand when he made a derogatory comment about the victim, which caused her family members to begin crying in the audience.
His mother, in turn, began yelling and was ordered out of the courtroom. Fox called a break and ordered the jury to be escorted out of the courtroom.
Paradiso then grabbed a shank and stood up. He grabbed the judge from behind and stabbed her in the arm and neck.
Bradley moved toward the bench and fired two rounds at Paradiso, one of which struck him in the chest, according to the news release.
Fox fell forward to try and break away from Paradiso as he was getting ready to stab the judge again.
Bradley placed his hand on Fox's head to shield her from the line of fire as she was lying on the bench, according to the release. Bradley then fired one more shot that struck Paradiso in the head and killed him.
Fox was transported to a local hospital and received stitches. She tried several times to return to work in a different courtroom but has since retired.
In March 2010, she filed a lawsuit against the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office for failing to provide enough security.
Even though it is 18 months after the courtroom incident, there has not been a report released on the incident. The District Attorney's Office is the lead agency investigating the incident, which is standard protocol for officer-involved shootings.
The office has determined that Bradley acted properly when he fatally shot Paradiso.
In May, Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau, spokesman for the DA's office, said the report was in the redrafting stage.
He did not return a call for comment on Tuesday.
Medal of Valor honorees at a glance
What is it? The Medal of Valor is the highest honor for public safety officers in the state. The California Legislature established the award on January 1, 2003.
Who gets it? Since it started, 45 public safety officers have received the award for acts significantly above and beyond the call of duty.
Who received it this year? Besides Lodi Det. Eric Bradley, nine other officers also received the award. Below is a brief explanation from the governor's news release on why they were selected:
California Highway Patrol Officers Rodney Richards and Jason Smith
The officers responded to a commercial vehicle accident in September 2009 where a tractor-trailer rig was engulfed in flames.
The driver was on fire and stuck in the wreckage.
The officers battled the flames with the help of some motorists who stopped. The officers finally opened the truck and freed the driver. Then, Smith used his bare hands to extinguish the flames on the driver's clothes.
The driver suffered burns on 30 percent of his body and went to the hospital. Both of the officers were also treated for severe smoke inhalation, and Smith had minor burns on his hands.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman
At a vehicle accident in August 2009, a car was engulfed in flames that reached 20 feet in the air.
Allman reached into the burning vehicle to get out the driver. He successfully got out the driver, but suffered second-degree burns on his hands and arms.
He then assisted others in moving the driver away from the truck. The driver eventually died from his injuries
Placer County Sheriff Department Deputy Ken Skogen
A man who said a woman was stuck in her home approached Skogen during an evacuation of a residential neighborhood.
Skogen went to the house, which was engulfed in flames, and saw a confused elderly woman standing with her walker in the home.
Skogen broke a window and asked the woman to come out. The window was too high for him to reach and pull her out, so he ran to the back door and kicked it open. He pried the woman's hands from the walker and carried her from the burning house to safety down the street.
San Mateo Police Department Captain Kevin Raffaelli and Officers Rick Apecechea, Jeff Dellinges and Robert Gonzalez
The officers went to a high school in August 2009 where there were reports of shots fired and possible explosions.
School staff were holding a teenager on the ground when Apecechea arrived. He tried to handcuff the suspect when he realized the teen had a tactical vest with 10 pipe bombs.
He ordered school staff to run away and was able to hold down and handcuff the male when the other three officers arrived to help subdue the teen.
Raffaelli grabbed the teen and ordered the other three officers to back away in case the bombs exploded.
All three remained by his side as Raffaelli cut off the tactical vest with the bombs. In a follow-up investigation, it was discovered that all the bombs were live and could have caused death.
Susanville Officer Kelley Merritt
Officers from multiple agencies were investigating a suspected marijuana garden in a remote area in June 2009. Officers discovered a large marijuana plot and three males who were living near the garden.
As the officers approached, two of the growers complied, while another suspect in a tent began firing an AK-47.
Two officers were struck. One received a flesh wound, while Lassen County Sheriff's Sergeant David Martin had injuries to his right hand, forearm and shoulder.
As the gunfire continued, Merritt ran to Martin and shielded him from gunfire while applying life-saving first aid.
He cleaned and bandaged the wounds, and was able to move Martin to a location where he could be air-lifted out.