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July 2013

Officers Rade Momirovich and Covelle Padgett

West Palm Beach (FL) Police Department

Officers Rade Momirovich and Covelle Padgett

Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Officers Rade Momirovich and Covelle Padgett, of the West Palm Beach (FL) Police Department, as its Officers of the Month for July 2013.

On the evening of March 5, 2012, officers from the West Palm Beach (FL) Police Department were dispatched to a reported shooting at a local gas station. When they arrived, the initial responding officers found a man who was shot in the face and leg. The victim said he fled from the Springbrook Commons apartment complex down the street after being shot, and that the assailant was still in the area. The officers heard the sound of gunfire coming from the same direction in which the victim had reportedly been shot.

Driving in separate marked vehicles, Officers Covelle Padgett and Rade Momirovich were the first to arrive at the scene of the shooting. Just as their vehicles came to a stop, dispatch radioed that the suspect was in front of Building 5560. Due to poor lighting in the area, the officers didn’t realize they had pulled up to the exact location where the suspect lay in wait to ambush responding officers. As Officer Momirovich opened the door of his vehicle, the gunman opened fire. Trapped in the front seat, Officer Momirovich fired back at the gunman. Meanwhile, Officer Padgett took a defensive position behind his vehicle.  Once the magazine in the gunman’s 9mm semiautomatic was empty, he dropped the weapon and fled.

As Officer Momirovich ran from his vehicle to find cover, the suspect emerged and chased Officer Momirovich with a large “samurai” style sword. Officer Momirovich simultaneously tried to reload his weapon while running from the sword-wielding assailant. Just as the assailant closed in to strike Officer Momirovich, Officer Padgett fired and fatally struck the assailant. Once this happened, Officer Momirovich realized that he had been hit.

A round from the assailant’s weapon had hit the steel cross bar inside Officer Momirovich’s police vehicle, and then fragmented, striking Officer Momirovich in the shoulder. Another bullet fragment struck him in the left side of his protective vest near his rib cage. Medical personnel recognized Officer Momirovich was suffering from shock in addition to his gunshot wounds. He was transported to a nearby hospital.

Both officers demonstrated extraordinary heroism that evening. There is no doubt that, had it not been for Officer Padgett’s actions that evening, the assailant would most likely have killed Officer Momirovich.

Today, both officers are back to full duty and continue to serve the citizens of West Palm Beach. Officers Padgett and Momirovich are members of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Benevolent Association, and collectively have served with the department for 9 years.

Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.

Officers Momirovich and Padgett, along with the other Officers of the Month Award winners for 2013, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2014, during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar.

Police Unity Tour The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month Program.