State Trooper from Welch awarded Medal of Valor

[image] Sr. Trooper James Coburn awarded Medal of Valor.

West Virginia State Police commander, Col. C.R. "Jay" Smithers issued awards to members of the state police who have shown exemplary service.  The awards were presented in a private ceremony at the WVSP headquarters in Charleston on Wednesday, March 19.

Among those who received honors was Senior Trooper James R. Coburn of the Welch Detachment.  Coburn was awarded the Medal of Valor for a situation that happened on July 8, 2012, in which several law enforcement officers lives were endangered.

"These awards provide sterling examples as to why the State Police is West Virginia's preeminent law enforcement agency," said Secretary Joseph Thornton of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.  "I proudly congratulate each recipient."

(Click Here for a complete list of the awardees and their actions)

The state police described the situation that lead to Sr. Trooper Coburn's award:

A suspect had stolen a Bluefield City Police cruiser on July 8, 2012 and was being pursued.  Senior Trooper Coburn positioned himself to intercept the pursuit and aid the other officers.  The pursuit ended when the suspect's vehicle ran off the roadway and was blocked in by pursuing units.  The suspect ran from the accident and was caught a short distance away by Officers Murray and Gibson of the Bluefield Police Department. 

There was a struggle and the suspect was able to get control of Officer Murray's service weapon.  The suspect was attempting to turn the weapon on to Officer Murray that was when Senior Trooper Coburn shot the suspect in such a way that he did not endanger the other officers involved in the close-combat situation.  The suspect, who officers later learned had an extensive criminal history, was killed.  The suspect had apparently been on the from Florida and had said not to be taken into custody by law enforcement again. 

The award states that the actions of Senior Trooper Coburn allowed all the officers involved in the incident to return home safely at the end of their shift and exemplify the characteristics of a West Virginia State Trooper.

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