AP NEWS

Coming to the rescue

March 14, 2019

La PORTE — The La Porte Police Department has recognized a pair of officers whose quick thinking and selfless attitudes have impacted the lives of two local residents.

Police Chief Tom Owens presented patrolmen Bill Bunton and Trent Mamazza with commendation awards at the station late last week.

They were recognized for their actions on two separate occasions over the past several months: Bunton for escorting a man who suffered a serious back injury to the hospital, possibly sparing him a lifetime of confinement to a wheelchair; and Mamazza for providing on-scene triage to a woman who was shot several times, potentially saving her life.

Bunton’s commendation stemmed from an incident that occurred on Nov. 20, when the 21-year veteran of the La Porte Police Department was dispatched to a report of an intoxicated man roaming the city streets. When meeting the subject of the call, the officer quickly discovered the man’s erratic movement was not caused by alcohol but due to a medical condition.

Bunton learned that the man had fallen down a flight of stairs and injured around seven vertebrae in his back. The officer convinced the man, who said he had just recently moved to the area, to let Bunton escort him to the hospital.

The injured man later submitted a letter to police, thanking for the officer for his help that night. Although the person did not know the name of the officer who assisted him, Bunton’s supervisors were able to determine the officer was responsible for the rescue and recommended he receive a commendation.

The injured man later bumped into Bunton at a local hardware store, where he thanked the officer in person, Bunton said.

“[Bunton had] outstanding detection to be able to determine that it was not alcohol, but [an] injury,” Owens said while handing the commendation plaque to the officer. “He went the extra mile to get him there, stayed and hung around for a while to make sure everything was OK.”

The chief added that Bunton’s actions may have prevented the man from suffering paralysis or even death, he said.

“[Bunton] made a difference in the community,” Owens said. “Certainly, hands down.”

Mamazza — whose supervisors also recommended him for a commendation — was honored for his actions the night of Jan. 14.

Around 9:30 p.m., Mamazza, an eight-year veteran of the department, was dispatched to a reported shooting in the city. Upon arriving at the scene, the officer encountered the victim, who was sitting in a chair and bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds.

After clearing the scene and ensuring it was safe, Mamazza began to treat the victim, applying pressure to her injuries to help slow the bleeding until additional help could arrive. At the same time, Mamazza did his best to keep the victim calm and prevent her from standing up, which could have caused further injury.

“[Mamazza] did a fantastic job at getting in there, getting the pressure on, holding pressure until EMS came in and took over from there,” Owens said during the award ceremony.

Like with Bunton, Mamazza’s bravery and quick thinking may have prevented the victim from dying due to her injuries, the chief said.

“Outstanding job, and that is what we need in this department,” Owens said. “Very well done.”

Both Bunton and Mamazza, who have received multiple commendations in the past at the department, said they were honored by the recognition, adding they became police officers just to help people in these kinds of situations.

“The department is full of guys like this, who are willing to charge into danger to take care of business,” Owens said. “I’m extremely proud of them.”