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January 2005

Deputy Sheriff Timothy Gillespie

Tazewell County (IL) Sheriff's Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Deputy Sheriff Timothy Gillespie of the Tazewell County (IL) Sheriff's Office as its Officer of the Month for January 2005. Deputy Gillespie has served in law enforcement for seven years.

When Deputy Gillespie received a dispatch on September 17, 2002 to investigate a hang-up 911 call at a trailer park in rural East Peoria, he did not realize the danger that awaited him. He was unaware that a young mother's home had been invaded by her intoxicated boyfriend, who was now terrorizing her at knifepoint. The suspect, a convicted felon, had a long history of violent behavior. Knowing this, the young woman attempted to sever ties with him worrying not only for her life, but also for the lives of her daughters who, at the time of the break-in, lay peacefully asleep in their beds.

At approximately 10:45 that evening, the suspect arrived at the Grandview Trailer Park and demanded to be let into the trailer. Being familiar his violent rages, the young mother, pregnant with the suspect's child, refused to open the door, asking rather that he leave and come back in the morning. Enraged by her refusal, the suspect kicked in the door, stormed into the trailer and threw her against a wall, pressing a knife to her throat. In an attempt to calm her attacker down, the young woman reminded him that she was carrying his child and suggested they try to work through this ordeal. After an hour, the suspect himself dialed 911 but immediately disconnected the call.

When Deputy Gillespie arrived at the trailer, the suspect went into the bedroom as the young woman went to answer the door. She asked the officer to come in and told him that her boyfriend had called and needed to talk to him. Noticing the red marks on the woman's neck and arms, Deputy Gillespie realized that she had been attacked prior to his arrival and knew he couldn't leave her alone until the assailant had left the premises.

Calling the suspect back into the living room, Deputy Gillespie tried to coax him to leave and offered to arrange a ride home for him; instead, the suspect ran back into bedroom where he snatched one of the little girls from her bed and put a knife to her throat. The life of 15-month old toddler was about to be snuffed out by this dangerous criminal who threatened to kill her if Deputy Gillespie didn't leave. Using the baby as a human shield, the suspect told the deputy "I'm going to kill her. I'm going to cut her. You'd better leave." Although his adrenaline was pumping, in a calm voice Deputy Gillespie instructed the assailant to put the baby down and warned him that he was not going to let anything happen to the child. Deputy Gillespie then watched in horror as the assailant began to cut the baby's skin and slice her throat.

Deputy Gillespie fired a shot into the suspect's legs, forcing him to lower the baby. Even still, the suspect continued to rage on, and Deputy Gillespie was forced to fire two more shots at the assailant. Deputy Gillespie pulled the baby away from her attacker, covered her wounds, and radioed for an ambulance and backup. The baby was taken to Saint Francis Medical Center and was rushed into emergency surgery. Though her wounds were so deep as to have had her vertebrae exposed, the baby survived and made a full recovery. The assailant died at the scene.

Deputy Gillespie's actions that night saved one life directly and perhaps the lives of an entire family. The Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office filed an investigation into the case and concluded that the use of deadly force by Deputy Gillespie was "not only reasonable, but absolutely necessary to save the life of the child." Deputy Gillespie has received numerous awards for his brave actions, including "Deputy of the Year" by the Illinois Sheriff's Association (2003) and the "Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award" from the Veteran's of Foreign Wars in 2003.

Reflecting on the deputy's handling of the case, his supervisor, Captain Ganschow, stated, "Deputy Gillespie's actions showed remarkable skill, composure under extreme pressure and above all, amazing courage." Captain Ganschow continued by saying, "Deputy Gillespie consistently sets a standard of professional conduct that brings honor to himself and his department."

Because of his dedication and hard work, Deputy Gillespie has earned the reputation of being an outstanding officer in every respect. His father, Pekin (IL) Police Chief Tim Gillespie, couldn't be more proud. "He just never fails to amaze me," Chief Gillespie stated at the Illinois Sheriff's Association awards ceremony. Currently, Deputy Gillespie is assigned to a multi-jurisdictional federal methamphetamine task force. His arduous work has contributed to more than 26 federal convictions and the decrease of local trafficking of this highly addictive, destructive drug.