Monday May 12, 2014 marked the 21st Annual Top Cops awards ceremony hosted by The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) in Washington DC. This prestigious event has been hailed by many as the equivalent of the Academy Awards for police officers recognizing acts of police valor, heroism and bravery from around the nation.
To be chosen as a Top Cop, an officer must be recommended by their agency or police association. A panel of law enforcement professionals then reviews all of the cases submitted from around the nation and narrows the field to 10 recipients.
Detective Fabian “Gonzo” Gonzalez from the Phoenix Police Department was one of 10 recipients chosen nationwide to receive this prestigious award. Detective Gonzalez is unique in that, presently, he is the only officer in the nation to have the unique distinction of being a two time recipient of the prestigious Top Cops award.
On Dec 28, 2013, citizens called police after observing suspicious activity at the BBVA Compass bank near 35th Avenue and Thomas Road. A suspect later identified as Mario Edward Garnett was seen entering the bank with a mask on. Phoenix Police Officer Tylon Wilson was the first officer on scene. Garnett exited the bank and engaged Officer Wilson by firing on him. Detective Fabian Gonzalez, conducting follow up on an unrelated case nearby, heard the radio traffic and responded. Detective Gonzalez was able to engage Garnett with lethal force from a distance of approximately 40 yards killing him and ending the threat. Only after the fact did officers learn that Garnett had had been on a cross country crime spree where he had attempted to rob a bank in Atlanta Georgia and had also robbed the Banccorp South in Tupelo Mississippi where he killed officer Gale Stauffer and wounded officer Joseph Maher in the process.
PLEA congratulates Detective Fabian Gonzalez for being recognized as a Top Cop for the second time and for his hard work and dedication to duty in ending a lethal threat and allowing the family of fallen officer Gale Stauffer to have closure with regard to their tragic loss.