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May 7, 2015

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Metro officers honored for response in high-speed chase, shooting

I can’t convey the terror,’ officer says of shooting of fellow officer Blake Penny

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Metro officers and family members gathered at Las Vegas City Hall to honor four of their own with the Unit Meritorious Service Award Tuesday.

Sgt. Steve Custer, officers Jason Hansen, Christian Jackson and Russell Laws were recognized for their quick response when a suspect gunned down officer Blake Penny after a high-speed chase last June.

“These particular officers are being recognized today are being recognized for their actions in responding to a call that is one of the most difficult calls in our career, shots fired, officer down,” Sherriff Doug Gillespie said.

Sgt. Custer, who lead the team during the incident and administered first aid to officer Penny a colleague and friend, became misty-eyed as he recalled the day.

“I was terrified,” Sgt. Custer said. “I’ve been around a lot of shootings, a lot of bodies, a lot of guys injured but its never been one of my guys or a personal friend of mine and to roll up to that scene and see him face down in his vehicle, half in and half out, I can’t convey the terror.”

Custer said he had to rely on his training to control the situation and said that he could not have accomplished the mission without his fellow officers.

“My squad … as the pressure mounts, we get better. The more pressure, the more external factors acting upon you, the better we get,” he said. “I was directing the orchestra so to speak, but everyone knew where to go, got in the position … I couldn’t ask for it to go any better.”

Custer said the award was a milestone for his 36-year career and was honored to be acknowledged by his peers.

Officer Penny survived the gunshot and he and the others will be honored May 12 in Washington, D.C., with an Honorable Mention for the Top Cop Award from the National Association of Police Organizations.

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