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Officer Justin Wester

New Bern Police Department, NC

On March 28, 2014, New Bern Police Officer Alexander Thalmann conducted a traffic stop on a bicyclist for an equipment violation. During the stop, Officer Thalmann detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the bicyclist and requested backup. Officer Justin Wester arrived as one of the backup officers.

During questioning, the subject became verbally aggressive and took off running. With officers in foot pursuit, the now fleeing suspect turned around and fired a handgun, striking Officer Thalmann in the head. Officer Thalmann immediately fell to the ground. Realizing his partner was down, Officer Wester continued to pursue the suspect and ordered him to stop and drop his weapon.

The suspect ignored the officer’s commands and turned and fired at him, wounding him in the upper thigh. Despite his injuries, Officer Wester continued to pursue the suspect while returning fire. He was subsequently able to fatally wound the suspect. Officer Thalmann was rushed to the hospital where he died 2 days later. Officer Wester was also transported to the hospital for treatment and later released.

A man being presented with a Badge of Bravery award
Justin Wester receives Congressional Badge of Bravery from Sen. Thom Tillis. (Photo credit: WNCN.com)