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Sergeant Kirk Van Orsdel (California Highway Patrol)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

On July 21, 2005, Sergeant Kirk Van Orsdel of the California Highway Patrol in California observed a vehicle that may have been involved in a freeway violence confrontation. Sergeant Van Orsdel's contact with the vehicle resulted in the suspect firing upon the officer with a fully automatic AK-47 assault rifle and then entering onto the freeway with Sergeant Van Orsdel in pursuit. The suspect stopped on the freeway, and the suspect and Sergeant Van Orsdel engaged in a second exchange of gunfire. The suspect traveled the wrong way on the freeway using all of the freeway lanes, and Sergeant Van Orsdel followed the suspect in reverse, using the right shoulder. The suspect attempted to initiate a shootout at a gas station, but was thwarted by the arrival of Sergeant Van Orsdel. The suspect then hid behind a cement rail to have a third exchange of gunfire with Sergeant Van Orsdel before the pursuit began again. In the final gun battle, the suspect used his vehicle as a shield, allowing his car to roll in neutral while firing at Sergeant Van Orsdel, who returned fire with his rifle, incapacitating the suspect. Sergeant Van Orsdel showed exceptional courage in facing, not one but, three separate gun battles with a suspect whose firepower outmatched his own.

Date Published: September 9, 2020