U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Fallen Officer Sergeant Verdell Smith Sr. (City of Memphis Police Department, TN)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

Fallen Officer Sergeant Verdell Smith Sr. (City of Memphis Police Department, Tennessee) is being honored for giving his own life to save the lives of civilians in the path of a driver speeding recklessly through a crowd.

On June 4, 2016, Officer Smith was handling crowd control and helping to maintain the peace on historic Beale Street in downtown Memphis. Shortly after 10:00 p.m., patrol officers radioed that a stolen vehicle driven by a suspect who was responsible for a triple shooting was last seen speeding in Officer Smith's direction.

Officer Smith was clearing the intersection of pedestrians when the suspect sped through the area and struck him. The suspect ran from his vehicle but was captured and taken into custody after a brief foot chase. Officer Smith was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Officer Smith went above and beyond expectations when he heroically, and at the cost of his own life, put himself between a violent criminal and a crowd of innocent people, protecting them from almost certain harm.

Date Published: September 4, 2020