Chief Chuck Hasty presented the commendations to officers Joseph DeSare and Matt Hunsucker at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
Lieutenant Jeff Baggett, in his letters of commendation for the two officers, described DeSare’s situation as one which put him “in a violent fight for his life.”
The situation began when DeSare stopped a vehicle with four people inside for a registration violation.
DeSare smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and called for assistance, Baggett’s letter said.
DeSare began a probable cause search and had the driver step out. As the driver was searched, the front seat passenger fled the vehicle and DeSare pursued him on foot. When the officer caught the man, James Antwon Coleman III, what Baggett described as a wrestling match between the two began. “Officer Hunsucker was unable to assist in the apprehension because a second offender fled on foot in another direction.”
Wrote Baggett: “The confrontation between Officer DeSare and the offender became a fight for survival. During the struggle the officer dropped his flashlight … and the offender attempted to pick it up to use as a weapon. As the officer was struggling to gain control, the offender continued to reach into his left pants leg. The officer was unable to call for assistance because of the intense struggle.”
As Coleman continued to reach into his pants leg, DeSare drew his weapon, continued the struggle and handcuffed the man without using deadly force.
Officers located DeSare in the 1000 block of Vance Street. “A search of the offender revealed the reason the offender was reaching in his left pants leg was to grab a pistol.”
A .40-caliber Smith & Wesson fell down his leg and was located just above his knee between his jogging pants on the inside and and his jeans on the outside. Narcotics were located in the pockets of the jogging pants. “Officer DeSare’s restraint and tenacity for justice led to the arrest of the offender with no serious injuries,” Baggett wrote. “Officer DeSare’s action reflect great credit upon himself, the Roanoke Rapids Police Department and the city of Roanoke Rapids.”
Coleman at the time was out on bond and awaiting a court date in the 2015 murder of Rynel Tyreek Gaines.
As DeSare was in his struggle, Hunsucker finally tripped the suspect he was chasing - Jamil Simmons - and forced him to the ground. “Officer Hunsucker kept the suspect covered at Taser point, then immediately reverted back to calling in Officer DeSare’s last known location to responding officers … Officer Hunsucker did not know the full extent of the resistance Officer DeSare was facing, but continued to guide responding officers to the confrontation.
“Officer Hunsucker’s efforts were instrumental in guiding responding officers to assist in locating Officer DeSare. Officer Hunsucker kept his offender covered with the taser until officers checked out with Officer DeSare. Officer Hunsucker then proceeded to secure his arrestee to ensure his safety.”
Wrote Baggett: “The teamwork exhibited by both Officer DeSare and Officer Hunsucker resulted in the arrest of both offenders with no reported injuries to officers or suspects. Officer Hunsucker’s selfless devotion to his partner and astute decision-making were instrumental in the operational success of the encounter. Officer Hunsucker’s actions reflect great credit upon himself, the Roanoke Rapids Police Department and the city of Roanoke Rapids.”
Said Hasty: “It shows the dedication, commitment and bravery our officers face on a daily basis.”
- DeSare, left, and Hunsucker. DeSare, left, and Hunsucker.
- From left, Parks, Batchelor and Hunsucker. From left, Parks, Batchelor and Hunsucker.
- Hasty and DeSare with his Officer of the Year award. Hasty and DeSare with his Officer of the Year award.
Officer of the year
Meanwhile at the council meeting, Hasty presented DeSare with the Officer of the Year award.
“He’s dependable, does his job and doesn’t like to be recognized,” Hasty said.
Officers of the quarter for the quarter ended in December were Lieutenant Perry Parks, Officer Curtis Batchelor and Hunsucker.