Deputy Eric Shaw turned to the jail inmate with a shocked look.
“You just cut me,” Shaw said.
In an unprovoked attack March 9, 2015, the inmate inside the disciplinary isolation cell at the Central Men’s Jail in Santa Ana had used a 6-inch handmade knife to slash the deputy’s forearm nearly to the bone.
It took 13 stitches to close the 5-inch wound.
And it took three weeks for Shaw to return to work.
“I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps and had one tour of Iraq, and I get assaulted and injured while working the jail,” said Shaw, who said the injury hasn’t caused any major long-term issues.
Shaw believes the inmate, who had been jailed on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, attacked him during a routine check of his cell to make a name for himself when he ended up in state prison.
The deep cut on Shaw’s arm is proof the inmate intended to seriously hurt the 51-year-old deputy, an 11-plus-year veteran of the OCSD.
Shaw was among 29 Orange County Sheriff’s deputies honored Thursday at the agency’s 28th Annual Medal of Valor Presentation Luncheon.
Shaw was a double-winner at the ceremony at the Hotel Irvine – an event that drew more than 600 deputies and their families, dozens of retired OCSD employees, other O.C. law enforcement leaders, and county and city leaders.
Shaw won a Purple Heart and, for his role in helping to run the OCSD Honor Guard, a Medal of Merit. With him at the luncheon was his wife, Carol, daughter Ciara, 22, and son Ethan, 16.
From a deputy who talked a suicidal young man off a freeway overpass to the deputy who suffered serious lung damage attempting to save occupants from a raging fire at the condo, the ceremony was a way for the OCSD to pull back the curtain on celebrated acts that typically don’t make a ripple in the media.
“When you hear these stories, they’re almost unbelievable,” Master of Ceremonies Ed Arnold said at one point while announcing the awards.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens thanked the Orange County Sheriff’s Advisory Council for sponsoring the ceremony.
In remarks at the end of the event Hutchens said law enforcement agencies in O.C., and the majority of police agencies nationwide, strive for better relations with their respective community members and partners.
“We know we need strong community partnerships to be successful,” Hutchens said.
The sheriff said such efforts aren’t new in Orange County.
And she said the work spotlighted Thursday only tells a fraction of the story of good work being done daily by her deputies.
“As members of law enforcement, we all have stories to tell,” Hutchens said. “We all have calls and cases that have changed someone’s life for the better. We all have spent countless hours making the communities we serve safer. But our actions didn’t rise to the level of official recognition.”
Those actions that did rise to that level resulted in the following 2015 medal recipients listed here:
MEDAL FOR LIFESAVING
Awarded for extraordinary actions while affecting, or attempting to affect, a lifesaving rescue beyond normal first aid
Deputy Jasen De Pasquale — For talking a suicidal man out of jumping off a freeway overpass in the unincorporated community of El Modena
Deputy Nick Stiefken and Deputy Gil Dorado — For reviving an unresponsive woman found floating face down in a hot tub in San Juan Capistrano
Investigator Rich Reyes and Deputy Gary Hamchuk — For reviving a 77-year-old woman found not breathing in San Clemente
Deputy Juan Lopez and Deputy Kevin Taylor — For reviving a sick woman in San Juan Capsitrano
Deputy Rob Pequeno and Deputy Ron Laquian — For reviving a 57-year-old man with a pre-existing respiratory condition who was not breathing in Laguna Woods
Deputy Ryan Durham and Deputy Kevin Kelly — For reviving a 13-year-old girl with cerebral palsy family members found at the bottom of the backyard pool
Deputy Anthony Garza — For reviving a 66-year-old man possibly suffering a heart attack inside a cinema in Laguna Hills
Deputy Sonia Tipantiza and Deputy Matt Townsen — For reviving a 73-year-old female not breathing at a home in Orange Park Acres
Deputy Vic Valdez — For administering life-saving CPR to a seriously injured motorcycle rider Valdez came across while transporting an arrestee to jail
Sgt. Scott Steinle and Deputy Nick Doty — For reviving a 66-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while taking a walk in Yorba Linda
Deputy Apryl Soapes — For saving the life of a 67-year-old woman who had attempted suicide by shooting herself in Aliso Viejo. Soapes applied pressure to her wounds and helped paramedics slow the loss of blood.
Sgt. David Haldeman and Deputy Ron Reyes — For reviving an 85-year-old man who had fallen on the boardwalk at Newport Harbor and was bleeding from facial lacerations. The two performed CPR for a while until paramedics, who were delayed by heavy traffic, arrived.
Deputy Dave Leathers — For saving the life of a heavily bleeding man who crashed his motorcycle in Stanton.
MEDAL OF MERIT
Awarded for extraordinary performance of duties or for meritorious actions or performance that rises above normal duties and occurs during a noteworthy incident
Deputy Pete Chavez, Deputy Mike Leeb and Deputy Jack Mullvain — For developing “Six Points for Kids,” a program designed to engage and assist needy kids in the communities served by the OCSD.
Deputy Daniel Mc Namee and Deputy Eric Shaw — For their tireless work as team leaders of the OCSD’s Honor Guard. They coordinated 40 separate events for the honor guard in 2015.
MEDAL OF COURAGE
Awarded for display of bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of law enforcement.
Deputy Gil Dorado — For battling through thick smoke to help a woman out of a burning duplex in San Juan Capistrano and attempting to re-enter to save the couple next door.
Sgt. Brian Sims (also received the Purple Heart Medal) — For entering a San Juan Capistrano condominium that was fully engulfed in flames in an attempt to save three people who ultimately died. As a result of a backdraft, Sims suffered severe permanent lung damage, pulmonary issues and smoke inhalation. He remained in the hospital for six days and spent seven months recovering before returning to duty.
PURPLE HEART MEDAL
Deputy Eric Shaw — In a vicious and unprovoked attack during a routine check, Shaw’s left arm was slashed by an inmate at the Central’s Men’s Jail in Santa Ana.
DISTINGUISHED DEPUTY MEDAL
Awarded to a deputy whose exemplary career has left a positive imprint within the OCSD.
Sgt. Dave Chewiwie (Chewy) — For his years of distinguished service mentoring and training his fellow deputies.