‘Unparalleled heroism’: Inland CHP officers presented Medal of Valor – Press-Enterprise

On Aug. 12, 2019, California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Paul was standing by on the Eucalyptus Avenue offramp of the 215 Freeway in Riverside as motorcycle Officer Andre Moye Jr. prepared to have a vehicle towed.

Suddenly, the driver retrieved a rifle from his pickup and unloaded on Moye, who fell about 20 feet from Paul, and then turned his weapon on Paul. Paul suffered crippling wounds to his legs and would later say he believed he was going to perish there. Yet, lying on his back behind his patrol car, Paul held off the attacker in a 10-minute gun battle until help arrived.

Among the first was CHP Officer Ryan Smith, who despite also being shot, was able to drag Paul 100 feet from the line of fire. Other officers arrived and killed the attacker, Aaron Luther. Paul and Smith survived, but Moye, 34, did not.

On Monday, Jan. 25, Gov. Gavin Newsom rewarded Paul, Smith and six other state employees for their bravery and heroism by presenting them with the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor.

Andre Moye Jr., a California Highway Patrol officer in the Riverside office, was killed in a shootout on Aug. 12, 2019, during a traffic stop. (Courtesy of CHP)

“Today’s Medal of Valor honorees demonstrated unparalleled heroism in service to their communities, risking their own safety to save lives,” Newsom said. “Their actions are an inspiration to all of us.”

Paul almost did not survive.

In an interview published in the annual report of the CHP 11-99 Foundation, which provides emergency assistance to CHP families, Paul said he was bleeding badly, his legs were in pieces and that he was in excruciating pain.

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As the attacker advanced on Paul and used vehicles for cover, Paul saw motorists taking photos and videos with their cell phones. He wondered whether anyone was using their phone to call 911.

“There’s no way I’m going to survive, but I have to keep shooting and fighting. What am I going to tell my parents, my girlfriend Jenny? At that point, I thought I was going to die,” Paul said.

But he did not.

“Paul’s remarkable will to survive kept him alive,” CHP Inland Division Chief Bill Dance, who is now retired, said in the foundation report. “With all odds stacked against him, he used his weapon effectively to keep the suspect away until backup arrived.”

That will, and plenty of assistance, saved Paul. After Smith pulled him to safety, Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Mario Chappell, five days into his field training but a nine-year Marine veteran, applied tourniquets to Paul’s arterial wounds. A sheriff’s patrol car whisked Paul to a hospital.

Paul spent the next three months there, enduring 12 surgeries. Doctors were able to repair the smashed leg bones and give him skin and muscle grafts, the foundation report said. Paul is missing three inches of bone in his left leg.

Now, Paul is back at the CHP office in a civilian role, walking with a brace as he attempts to work his way back to duty, said Officer Dan Olivas, a CHP spokesman.

Paul and Smith declined to be interviewed for this story.

“My main focus is to take it one day at a time or else it’s too overwhelming,” Paul said in the foundation report.

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