Knoxville Police Department recognizes July and August Officer of the Month awards

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Knoxville Police Department recognizes July and August Officer of the Month awards

Posted: 10/11/2019
The Knoxville Police Department handed out its July and August Officer of the Month awards during a news conference on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019.

Chief Eve Thomas alongside Mayor Madeline Rogero presented five as the July Officers of the Month and three as August Officers of the Month, while three were given the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal. 


Mayor, Estrada, Johnson, ChiefJuly Officers of the Month – Anthony Estrada and Luke Johnson 

On July 7 at around 7:30 p.m., KPD officers were dispatched to a possible stabbing at the 2700 block of Southfork Drive. Officers Estrada and Johnson were the very first to arrive, and were met by a chaotic scene. When they arrived, the residence was on fire and officers observed a subject, who was bleeding from an apparent suicide attempt, attempting to leave the scene. Upon approach, the subject placed his hands in his pockets in another apparent suicide attempt, as he tried to coerce officers to shoot him.  

Despite that and the chaos of the scene unfolding before them, Officers Estrada and Johnson were able to take the suspect into custody without incident. The victim from the stabbing was unfortunately pronounced dead at the UT Medical Center and the suspect was later charged with 2nd Degree Murder and Aggravated Arson. 

On a scene that involved a residential fire, a bleeding subject leaving the residence, and personnel from the KPD, the Knoxville Fire Department and EMS, Officers Estrada and Johnson acted decisively and attentively, providing the opportunity to catch and charge the suspect before he was able to flee the scene and secure the crime scene before evidence was destroyed in the fire. 

For those actions, Officers Estrada and Johnson were selected as the July Officers of the Month. 


Mayor Rogero, Mullins, Ayers, Gomez, Chief ThomasJuly Officers of the Month – Ryan Ayers, Donald Mullins and Jonathan Gomez

East District night shift officers Ryan Ayers, Donald Mullins and Jonathan Gomez have worked tirelessly each night to make the city of Knoxville a better place, pulling together collectively as a team to make numerous arrests. 

Two of those arrests were particularly noteworthy. 

On July 9 at around 1:15 a.m., those three officers put together a strategic plan to enter the Holston Oaks Apartment complex in an attempt to locate and apprehend subjects openly walking around the complex with guns in their possession. 

After gathering intel from citizens in the complex, the officers located the subjects and started to approach them. Upon approach, the subjects fled in different directions and ignored officer commands. A foot pursuit ultimately ended in the apprehension of a 17-year-old in possession of a loaded .45 caliber Glock, which was revealed to be stolen. The suspect was also in possession of two baggies of narcotics, believed to be heroin and methamphetamine. 

If not for those proactive measures and the thoughtful strategic plan, this armed 17-year-old would still be loose on the streets of Knoxville. 

The very next day, on July 10 at around 5 a.m., those three officers responded to a residential burglary on Sixth Avenue. Upon arrival, the officers made contact with the victim, who stated that he returned home to find two unidentified subjects in his house. The subjects were alleged to have fled the house towards the homeless camps under the I-40 and James White Parkway Bridge. 

Officers Ayers, Mullins and Gomez again put together a strategic plan to search the area and eventually located a male matching the description of one of the suspects. The suspect was taken into custody after being positively identified and was found in possession of a silver necklace belonging to the victim. 

Those are just two examples of the teamwork and proactive, thoughtful police work displayed by these three officers on a regular basis. For that and their constant commitment to safeguarding the community, Officer Ayers, Mullins and Gomez were also selected as the July Officers of the Month. 


Meritorious Service Medal – Tammy DeBow, Rodney Patton and Nathanael SandersMeritorious Service Medal – Tammy DeBow, Rodney Patton and Nathanael Sanders

The Meritorious Service Medal is one of the highest honors bestowed upon KPD officers, going to those who go above and beyond the call of duty while putting themselves at great personal risk. On July 1, Lt. Tammy DeBow, Sgt. Rodney Patton and Officer Nathanael Sanders did just that. 

That evening, while patrolling the Austin Homes community, DeBow and Patton were flagged down by residents who stated that an apartment was on fire. Those two quickly rushed to the area and relayed the information to 911. Sanders arrived on scene shortly after that. 

Neighbors alerted the officers that a resident was most likely still inside of the apartment and those three officers immediately jumped into action, working quickly to find a way inside. 
The front and back doors were locked. However, Patton was able to kick the front door open. Sanders and Patton then went inside and attempted to crawl to where the resident was located, but were forced back outside by the intensity of the smoke and the heat. 

Sanders then rushed to the back of the apartment, where DeBow was located. DeBow, with the help of an unknown neighbor, used a fire extinguisher on a burning air condition unit and pulled it from the window, allowing smoke to escape from inside. 

While that was going on, Patton made a second attempt to enter through the front of the apartment, but was again beat back by the heat and smoke. 

Eventually, with the help of an unknown bystander, DeBow was able to push a second window air conditioning unit inside the first-floor bedroom, allowing the officers to look inside and locate an unconscious male laying on a bed near the window. Sanders was able to reach inside the window, grab the man and pull him towards the window, but the victim became wedged. They were unable to pull him out, but they held the man’s head near the window for air until KFD arrived on scene. 

Within minutes, KFD did arrive, enter the apartment and remove the victim, who was transported to the UT Medical Center in critical condition. 

Both DeBow and Patton went to the UTER for injuries received during the rescue attempt. DeBow was treated for mild smoke inhalation and released the same day, while Patton was admitted and treated for three days for severe smoke inhalation. 

The victim unfortunately did not survive the incident, but these three officers worked collectively with a single purpose to rescue a citizen in dire need. When time was of the essence, DeBow, Patton and Sanders responded quickly and did so at great personal risk. For those efforts, they were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. 


August Officers of the Month – Kevin Varner and Brian MullaneAugust Officers of the Month – Kevin Varner and Brian Mullane

Officers Kevin Varner and Brian Mullane were recognized as the August Officers of the Month for their proactive work that led to the arrest of Trevor Cox on August 28. 

Cox had been a prolific offender in Knoxville spanning even back to his juvenile years, and was connected to multiple violent crimes in the city. He was placed on KPD’s Top 10 Most Wanted warrants list and as a result Varner and Mullane were tasked with attempting to locate him. 

After extensive digging into Trevor’s criminal file, officers determined that Cox was likely somewhere around the northern Clinton Highway area. Varner and Mullane then dug into social media to see if they could determine a more precise whereabouts via Cox’s social media footprint. 

After several hours of searching, Varner and Mullane identified a lead on a possible location. The officers then worked alongside the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to gain further intel on where the suspect might be located. 

Eventually, with coordination with the KCSO, officers were able to proceed to the address that was uncovered during the investigation, surround the residence and arrest the suspect. During that same arrest, another suspect with an active warrant in Knox County was also arrested. 

Due to the diligent preparation and initiative taken by Varner and Mullane, a repeat violent offender was taken off the streets of Knoxville, and they were selected as the August Officers of the Month. 


August Officer of the Month – Dona Carberry August Officer of the Month – Dona Carberry 

Officer Dona Carberry was recognized as the August Officer of the Month as well for her commitment to the safety and welfare of a citizen in need. 

Carberry was first called into action on June 25 when she was tasked with a welfare check on a woman who had been identified through the CIT unit as a person who may be in need of mental health services. 

After that initial meeting, Carberry determined that the woman was in need and conducted further assessment to better identify what she could do specifically to address those areas of need. 

Of her own accord, Carberry began to visit this woman in need on a weekly basis to oversee her progress. Those visits and interactions with this woman have continued for months. She faithfully advocated for this individual who had no family or friends to assist in obtaining the resources to help her re-enter mainstream society. 

Carberry lobbied on this woman’s behalf with little to no success with multiple social service providers and began to take on that role personally, investing her own time to take this woman in desperate need to social activities. Carberry did that while trying to get a case worker and other services that would be instrumental to her success. 

For her personal investment in the well-being of a citizen in need, her selflessness and devotion to not only this citizen, but to the Knoxville Police Department, Carberry was named the August Officer of the Month.