Mario Gutierrez, the Miami-Dade police officer stabbed last year while stopping a man from setting fire to a gas station near Miami International Airport, has received a top national award for his bravery.
Gutierrez was in Washington, D.C., this week as the only Florida police officer to receive the TOP COPS award from the National Association of Police Officers. Others in law enforcement agencies from Texas to New York received the same award.
Last October, Gutierrez, 55, approached a man who was trying to stuff newspapers he had set on fire into an underground gasoline valve at a Shell gas station on Le Jeune Road. Gutierrez was stabbed several times before he shot and killed the man. The officer recovered from his wounds.
Dominique Jean had a box cutter, an eight-inch knife and a large screwdriver when Gutierrez killed him. Before approaching Jean, Gutierrez quickly determined he had to shut off the valve and deactivate the station’s gas pumps.
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Gutierrez insisted he wasn’t a hero at the time.
“I did what any cop would have done. I saw a man committing a crime and I had to do my job and take him to jail,” the officer told told el Nuevo Herald.
Before Gutierrez’s return from Washington on Wednesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement praising the 23-year veteran.
“Police officers often encounter situations that call for them to be willing to lay down their lives for people they have never met,” the mayor said. “But this is what heroes do.”