From top left: Deputy District Attorney Kelly Kelley, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Deputy District Attorney Simone Shay and Deputy District Attorney Lucrecia Boado. From bottom left: Honoree Patrick Connell, Honoree Michael Collier and Honoree Sylvester June Board III (Rebecca Madrigal was unable to attend the event). Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.
Four community members were honored by District Attorney Jackie Lacey today aboard the Queen Mary for their courageous actions that saved victims in the communities of Long Beach and Gardena, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Those recognized included two men who stopped a hate crime attack on the beach, a man who stopped the assault of a teen boy in a restaurant bathroom and a woman who aided a mother viciously beaten by a stranger over a parking space, district attorney officials stated.
"Our honorees had the courage to intervene despite frightening and dangerous circumstances," Lacey said in a statement. "They stepped into unknown peril to right a wrong, even if it meant compromising their own safety. Today, we honor and celebrate these heroic individuals."
The four honorees were recognized during a Courageous Citizen Awards luncheon hosted by the Long Beach Rotary Club. These awards are presented by the district attorney’s office several times a year “to ordinary people who have performed extraordinary acts of selflessness in assisting in criminal prosecutions, aiding victims, preventing crimes, or capturing suspects.”
Los Angeles resident Michael Collier, 29, and Long Beach resident Sylvester June Board III, 44, were honored for stopping a race-motivated attack in Long Beach on April 29.
Officials said Collier was at the beach with a friend and her 17-year-old brother when Collier overheard four teenagers who had approached the teen to ask him where he was from and then challenge him to a fight.
Collier intervened, stating that neither he nor the teen belonged to a gang.
“The four teenagers then stabbed Mr. Collier multiple times as they yelled racial epithets and spit on him,” officials stated.
Board, who was in the water when he saw the teenagers surround Collier, returned to the shore when the attack began and shouted that he was calling the police. Board remained with Collier until police arrived and then helped them apprehend the teenage assailants.
One of the assailants, 18-year-old Andrew Pina, pleaded no contest in June to assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and admitted hate crime and gang allegations. He was sentenced to nine years in prison. The three minors were convicted of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and received six months in camp community placement, according to officials.
Carlsbad resident Patrick Connell, 37, was honored for helping stop an assault on a 13-year-old boy at a Long Beach restaurant on March 2, 2016.
Officials said the teen was eating with his family at the restaurant when he left the table to use the restroom.
“As the boy washed his hands in the sink, a man suddenly approached him from behind and put him in a chokehold,” officials stated. “The assailant then dragged the boy toward a bathroom stall.”
As Connell entered the restroom, he saw the attacker pulling the boy, who was gasping for air and extending his arms for help, according to officials. Connell immediately pushed the assailant to the wall, grabbed the boy and exclaimed, “He’s coming with me!”
Connell returned the teen to his family’s table and told them what happened. The victim’s family members then dashed to the restroom and detained the assailant until police arrived.
Herbert Laurence Harris, the 48-year-old assailant, pleaded no contest to child abuse and kidnapping in March and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Gardena resident Rebecca Madrigal, 48, was honored for aiding a mother who was attacked by a stranger June 1, 2015 in a Gardena bank parking lot.
Officials said the mother was securing her baby in a car seat in the parking lot when she heard a car horn. She looked up and spotted a man in his car waiting for the parking space next to her.
“Seconds later, the man got out of his vehicle, yelled at the woman and then punched her in the head, ribs and back,” officials stated. “The assailant continued his attack by kicking the victim as she lay on the ground.”
Madrigal, who was near the scene of the assault, raced to the suspect and yelled, “Hey, what’s your problem? Without a word, the attacker returned to his car.
Madrigal quickly dragged the injured mother out of the path of the car as the assailant proceeded to park in the empty space where the victim had fallen. Police were called and the man was taken into custody.
On May 10, 2016, a jury convicted the defendant of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon. The 72-year-old man was sentenced to six years in prison.