Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley recently presided over the Courageous Citizens Awards, which honored three young adults who stopped a suspect’s attack on his girlfriend, and in a separate case, recognized a woman who helped foil a distraction-style robbery.
Justine Garcia, 19; Deedee Reyna, 18; and Michael Valle, 21; were each presented with Courageous Citizen Awards. In July 2009 while outside a movie theater, Garcia and Reyna saw a suspect strike his girlfriend and knock her to the ground. The two young women rushed to aid the victim, who called out for help as her boyfriend continued to grab and pull her.
Valle, who was working at a nearby shop, went outside to intervene. He got between the suspect and the victim, shielding the woman from the attack. The assailant was arrested and charged with domestic battery. Garcia, Reyna and Valle went on to assist in the criminal prosecution, attending multiple court hearings and testifying in court. The accounts of the three witnesses proved critical in securing a conviction, as the victim refused to testify against her attacker.
Courageous Citizen Award recipient Angela Casillas, 31, received the honor for her role in foiling a distraction-style robbery in February 2010. Casillas was at a store with an on-site check-cashing business when a suspect attempted to run away with approximately $34,000. Casillas and a store clerk struggled to detain the assailant, who struck her in the arm and chest, but he was eventually arrested and all of the money was recovered. Less than three months later, the defendant pleaded no contest to one count of robbery and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
The District Attorney’s Office presents Courageous Citizen Awards several times a year to citizens who have performed extraordinary acts of valor and selflessness in aiding victims, preventing crime, capturing suspects and assisting in criminal prosecutions.