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Deputy Rudy Mirelez

Mariposa County Sheriff's Office, CA

On October 1, 2015, Mariposa County Sheriff's Deputy Rudy Mirelez logged on early for duty and was in the process of receiving an overview of the prior shift’s activities from Deputy Sponhaltz when they heard radio traffic of a vehicle pursuit heading in their direction. The pursuing deputy indicated that the suspect vehicle passed him traveling at 90 miles per hour. As the suspect vehicle approached their location, Deputy Sponhaltz pulled onto State Route 49 to support the pursuing deputy. The fleeing vehicle then appeared to lose control and/or intentionally collide into Deputy Sponhaltz's patrol vehicle. This collision forced Deputy Sponhaltz's vehicle off of the highway and up an embankment.

The suspect vehicle was rendered disabled and spun to a stop in the middle of the lane. Witnessing the collision, not knowing the condition of his partner and attempting to protect his partner’s life, Deputy Mirelez pulled to a stop between Deputy Sponhaltz’s vehicle and the suspect vehicle. Deputy Mirelez exited his vehicle and was confronted by the suspect, a 35-year-old military combat veteran, armed with a pistol. Deputy Mirelez ordered the driver to drop the pistol. After a very brief verbal exchange, gunfire erupted between the suspect and Deputy Mirelez.

During the firefight, Deputy Mirelez sustained a direct gunshot to the face. This traumatic injury caused Deputy Mirelez to fall to his knees. Knowing his partner and the community were in danger, Deputy Mirelez got back up and continued to fire at the suspect. Deputy Mirelez was then also struck in the upper torso, with the bullet passing above his ballistic vest panels and causing critical internal injuries.

Deputy Mirelez was able to keep the suspect engaged until his fellow deputies reached and apprehended the suspect. Sustaining life-threatening injuries, Deputy Mirelez was flown to a trauma hospital in Modesto, CA, where he was treated. Deputy Sponhaltz was not injured during this incident.

The investigation after the shooting revealed that the suspect was reportedly on a mission to kill a Mariposa County resident.

The actions of Deputy Mirelez demonstrate extraordinary bravery and a willingness to save the lives of others, without regard to his own personal safety.


A group of three people standing together. A woman in the middle is holding a Badge of Bravery award.
Sheriff Doug Binnewies, Deputy Mirelez and wife Christine
An officer being presented with a Badge of Bravery award
Senator Dianne Feinstein Honors Mariposa County Sheriff’s Deputy with the Congressional Badge of Bravery