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Officer Reeshemah Taylor (Osceola County Corrections Department, FL)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

On June 22, 2009, Officer Reeshemah Taylor was assigned to the Medical Unit of the Osceola County Jail. While performing her duties, Officer Taylor was confronted by a high-risk inmate who had taken one officer hostage and changed into that officer's uniform. The inmate placed a fully loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun to Officer Taylor's head as she walked into the room where the inmate and the captive officer were located. This inmate had a history of violent felony charges and was already serving three consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole within the Florida Department of Corrections. The inmate was being held at the Osceola County Jail pending trial for a violent armed robbery. The inmate was also a well-known member of the "Los 27" and "La Nieta" gangs domiciled out of Puerto Rico, who are notorious for their violent acts against law enforcement personnel. Through the subsequent criminal investigation of this attempted escape, it was determined that this inmate planned to walk out of the jail dressed as a corrections officer. The gun was factored into his plan and would be used if someone attempted to stop him or intervene. According to investigators, there was no doubt that this inmate would have used the firearm to ensure that his escape was successful. He was prepared to shoot anyone who might attempt to avert him from his plan, as he felt he had nothing to lose and did not want to return to prison.

During Officer Taylor's face-to-face confrontation with the inmate, a struggle took place for the weapon. While the weapon was pointed at Officer Taylor, she immediately grabbed the weapon with both hands, diverting it from her direction, and delivered a knee spike to the inmate's groin. The inmate dropped to the floor, dislodging the weapon from his hand. The gun dropped several feet away from Officer Taylor and the inmate. Officer Taylor placed herself on top of the inmate, with one arm around his head to fashion a headlock, and her legs scissoring his lower body, to keep him on the floor and away from the gun. With her free hand, she utilized her portable radio to announce the code and summon assistance. Officer Taylor engaged an inmate that was far superior in size, strength, motivation, and intention. She successfully subdued this inmate through sheer determination, instincts, will, and courage. Her efforts, in the face of imminent death, saved the lives of many.

a head and shoulders view of a female police officer in uniform smiling at the camera
Date Published: September 9, 2020