Sgt. Alan Bonanno
Please tell this officer’s story of how they saved a life or showed exemplary service in the field.Life saving - Early, July 5, 2021, Sgt. Alan Bonanno responded to a call of a breaking and entering into an elderly resident's apartment by a male experiencing a mental health crisis. Upon arriving, Sgt. Bonanno recognized the suspect as a person he had dealt with in the past who he knew to be schizophrenic. In fact, Sgt. Bonanno remembered that the last time he interacted with the suspect, it resulted in a use of force situation. To avoid another use of force incident, Sgt. Bonanno attempted to de-escalate the situation from the front door of the apartment.
With the front door now open, Sgt. Bonanno could see the suspect, a 40-year-old white male, and the elderly homeowner, a 85-year-old veteran standing near the kitchen. The apartment was small and Sgt. Bonanno was only about 15' from the suspect as he tried to talk the suspect into leaving the apartment to create separation from the resident. The suspect was clearly not in a stable cognitive state and he continued to refuse to leave the apartment. The danger to the resident increased when the elderly man tried to walk past the suspect and leave the apartment. The suspect suddenly stepped in front of the resident and blocked him from leaving. Recognizing that the situation was deteriorating, and knowing that a back-up Officer had not yet arrived, Sgt. Bonanno had to act to protect the resident. Sgt. Bonanno attempted to arrest the suspect for felony breaking and entering and felony kidnapping. As soon as Sgt. Bonanno tried to handcuff the suspect, a fight ensued. Sgt. Bonanno pushed the suspect away to create distance so that other less forceful efforts could be used. The suspect had a different plan.
The suspect, who was much larger than Sgt. Bonanno, rushed forward and viciously attacked Sgt. Bonanno. According to Sgt. Bonanno, the suspect had a look of killing in his eyes. The suspect punched Sgt. Bonanno several times as the two fought inside the apartment. Sgt. Bonanno pulled his Taser 7 from it holster in an attempt to tase the suspect. Almost immediately, the suspect grabbed the Taser and tried to take it from Sgt. Bonanno. Over the next minute, both cartridges were fired into the ceiling obviously having no effect in de-escalating the situation. Sgt. Bonanno said he was being overpowered by the suspect and thought that the situation might likely result in lethal force. However, Sgt. Bonanno, recognizing the suspect to be experiencing a mental health crisis, did everything he could to maintain control until another Officer arrived.
During the assault, Sgt. Bonanno struck the suspect in the head twice with the Taser causing lacerations to the suspects head and eyebrow. When the second Officer arrived, Sgt. Bonanno was already covered in the suspect's blood and still trying to keep the suspect from taking his Taser.
Not fully understanding the magnitude of the situation, the second Officer, Officer Morales, thought this was a lethal force situation. Thankfully, Sgt. Bonanno yelled out "Tase him!" Ofc. Morales immediately tased the suspect with great effect. The suspect suddenly complied with the Officers and the situation was now under control.
In the end, neither Sgt. Bonanno or the elderly resident harmed by the suspect's actions. The suspect received lacerations to his head and was treated at the local hospital before being released to police custody where he was charged with several felonies to include assault on a police officer.
Why should this officer receive the RISE Officer award?Sgt. Bonanno deserves this recognition for his heroism and life-saving efforts. He worked to de-escalate a situation because he suspected it might result in force because of his experience with the suspect previously. However, he was forced to take action when the suspect prevented the elderly resident from leaving his own apartment.
Sgt. Bonanno singlehandedly fought with this suspect to keep him from harming the elderly resident and to keep the suspect from taking his taser. Sgt. Bonanno maintained great restraint in his response to the suspect's violent actions. Moreover, the second the suspect was handcuffed, Sgt. Bonanno controlled his emotions and maintained the utmost professionalism. As this incident found its way into the news cycle, the suspect's father began to tell a narrative that was not true. He alleged that Sgt. Bonanno used excessive force on his mentally ill son and even punched and kicked him after he was handcuffed. Sgt. Bonanno did none of those things and his reputation was now in question. Yet, he maintained his professionalism and kept his morale up even in the face of criticism in the media. He is the embodiment of professionalism, restraint, and self-control. He did everything 100% correct in this case and the body-worn camera video confirms that.