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Detroit cops to be honored for heroic efforts

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Police officer Matthew Windquist and partner Tyler Simmons volunteered to answer a 911 call about a burglar in an abandoned house, only to be wounded by a shotgun blast.

The two 12th Precinct officers are among the Detroit cops, firefighters and emergency medical technicians to be honored Thursday at the Above & Beyond awards ceremony sponsored by the Detroit Public Safety Foundation.

Despite the emergency run turning out badly, Windquist said he wouldn’t do anything differently.

“We did everything right, but sometimes that’s the outcome,” said the 26-year-old cop, who is to receive a Purple Heart award during Thursday’s ceremony. “We got a call about a burglary in an unoccupied house, but we were unable to ID which house because there were five vacant houses on the same side of the street.

“So we went to the house where the 911 call came from,” Winquist said. “My partner knocked on the door, but there was no answer. While we were checking the area, a shot rang out.”

Winquist was hit in the chin and jaw, while Simmons, who is to receive a Valor Award on Thursday, was struck in the arm.

Capt. Gary Sroka of the 12th Precinct said he was proud of his officers.

“These are younger guys, and their training paid off,” Sroka said. “When Winquist went down, his partner was having trouble moving his arm, but he shielded him and was able to drag him to safety. He stood his ground and provided cover for his partner, not knowing what was happening.”

The shooter was Juwann Plummer, who said he fired the shotgun because he thought the officers were going to break into his home in the 20500 block of Lesure on Detroit’s west side.

Plummer pleaded guilty to charges that include intentional discharge of a firearm in a building causing serious impairment and was sentenced to two years’ probation and 90 days in jail.

Also scheduled to be honored Thursday are Fourth Precinct officers Steven Rauser and Brian Gadwell, who on Easter Sunday jumped into the Detroit River to rescue a pregnant woman.

After responding to a dispatch from Riverside Park at the foot of Grand Boulevard in southwest Detroit, they saw a man leaning over the dock, dangling a branch for the woman to hold onto.

Gadwell, a 17-year police veteran, jumped into the water, wrapped his legs around the woman, and held onto a piece of rebar jutting out from the pier.

Gadwell told The News the woman was grateful during the rescue attempt, telling him she loved him.

“I told her, ‘I love you, too, or else I wouldn’t be in there with you,’” he said.

After about five minutes, Gadwell told Rauser he was losing his grip on the woman.

“So then I went into the water and grabbed her,” said Rauser, who has been a Detroit cop for 13 years. “She started getting hysterical, grabbing onto my neck and dunking me. She pushed herself off me and started floating away; lucky a J.W. Westcott (private mail boat) came by, and they were able to rescue the woman.

“They whisked her away. We didn’t find out she was pregnant until she got to the hospital.”

An emergency C-Section was performed, and a baby boy was delivered.

“It was relieving when we got out of the water, but pretty scary when we were in there,” Rauser recalled. “The woman (later) thanked us and told us the baby is doing fine. So that’s a good feeling.”

The Above & Beyond ceremony is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Marriott Renaissance Center.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN