LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville police officer who saved man 'doing my job'

Dozens of police honored at banquet


When Sgt. Brian Kuriger came upon a man living in a small moving trailer off a rural road in western Louisville on Sept. 16, he knew the man was covered in a mixture of gasoline and kerosene because the smell filled the air.

A bonfire was going and the man was pacing, yelling about wanting to see a specific police detective. Within moments, the man was approaching Kuriger with a propane torch in hand. Kuriger used his Taser, but it had no effect. Then the man turned the torch on himself, lighting his pants and arms on fire.

Kuriger said he raced toward the man, tackled him and then began to throw dirt on him to extinguish the flames.

On Friday night, Kuriger was one of dozens of Louisville Metro Police officers honored at the department’s annual awards banquet. Kuriger received the Medal of Honor.

“It’s an honor,” Kuriger said. “But I was doing my job. I put my uniform on every day to protect the citizens of this community.”

Kuriger said he had no doubt that any officer would have done the same.

Officers were honored for a host of accomplishments. The annual banquet is the main time each year that officers get to stop for a moment and be recognized for the work they do.

Officer Armand “Buddy” VanCleave, who works in the traffic unit, was honored for his efforts last year to save a man he was assisting on a stalled vehicle call on July 4. A car came around the blind curve where they were stopped and lost control, striking the car and trapping VanCleave between the car and the guardrail.

VanCleave was able to push the motorist over the guardrail to keep him from being struck. But VanCleave suffered severe injuries to his leg and said he will have his third surgery in a couple of weeks.

The department is honoring VanCleave, an officer for 19 years, with the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart.

VanCleave also said he’s honored, “but I wish I’d never been hit by a car. I’m in pain a lot of the time.” VanCleave returned to work in February but said his injuries from the accident will likely lead him to retire later this year, something he had not planned to do for several more years.

Officer of the Year: Tony Grant

Civilian of the Year: Frank Lucchese

Explorer of the Year: John Moore

Medal of Honor:

  1. Lt. Greg Burns
  2. Sgt. Chris Boyer
  3. Sgt. Brian Kuriger
  4. Dennis Beatty
  5. Paul Paris
  6. Kevin Smith
  7. Armand VanCleave
  8. Mike Williams

Purple Heart:

  1. Lt. Greg Burns
  2. Tony Sacra
  3. Kevin Smith
  4. Armand VanCleave

Medal of Honor:

  1. Detective Charles Newman
  2. Mike Dentinger
  3. Rusty Holland
  4. Paul Humphrey
  5. Mike Pawul
  6. Adam Sears
  7. Shannon Shafer
  8. Sean Szpila
  9. Willie Williams
  10. Mike Woodard

Distinguished Lifesaving:

  1. Sgt. Tim Stokes
  2. Detective William Pearson
  3. Kenneth Angelini
  4. Matt Baker
  5. Paul Barber
  6. Stephen Barone
  7. David Bassler
  8. Dennis Beatty
  9. Todd Benzing
  10. Kevin Bevil
  11. Nathan Blanford
  12. Eric Boswell
  13. Todd Boyd
  14. Al Ceralde
  15. Marc Christiansen
  16. Chad Crick
  17. Larry Cushman
  18. Vadim Dale
  19. Wannie Davenport
  20. Mike Dentinger
  21. Chistopher Dudley
  22. Shaun Erie
  23. David Graham
  24. Todd Hale
  25. Joe Heitzman
  26. Charles Heller
  27. Michael Hendeson
  28. Chuck Herbert
  29. Wayne Hobbic
  30. Rusty Holland
  31. Russell Horton
  32. William Howard
  33. Ed Johnson
  34. Sean Jones
  35. Matthew Kennington
  36. Emily Lettie
  37. Hydia Lockhart
  38. Anthony Mabrey
  39. Steve McAtee
  40. Jackie Miller
  41. Kevin Mumphrey
  42. Jordon Murphy
  43. Mark Oerther
  44. Shannon Parks
  45. Troy Prechtel
  46. Anthony Scott
  47. Joshua Spaulding
  48. Greg Stark
  49. Dan Taylor
  50. Trinity Tillman
  51. Amanda Tolle
  52. Derrick Torrens
  53. Tracey Vantassell
  54. Leslee Wagner
  55. Mike Williams
  56. W. Allan Wolf
  57. Brandon Wood
  58. Carmine Zoeller

Exceptional Merit:

  1. Sgt. William Hibbs
  2. Sgt. Donnie Masden
  3. Kenneth Christian
  4. Chris Colburn
  5. Steve Farmer
  6. Mike King
  7. Jonah Kiper
  8. Bobby Lewis
  9. Nicholas Nail
  10. Kristopher Pedigo
  11. Erik Spencer
  12. William Wolf
  13. Elaine Fernandez
  14. Amberee Hensley
  15. Jennifer Shoemaker