Heflin police Officer Jackie Stovall, Alabama State Trooper John Lewis and Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jamie Cofield were awarded the Medal of Merit by the Oxford Police Department for what Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge described as going “above and beyond the line of duty.”
Stovall was shot on Dec. 15 while in pursuit of Romero Roberto Moya, 33. According to police, Moya fired an AK-47 at officers in Heflin and Cofield returned fire several times before Moya fled from police and crashed his vehicle in a busy Oxford intersection. Law enforcement officials said that after the crash, Moya open fired again on officers and Stovall was shot in the groin. Lewis rushed to help and was able to keep Stovall from bleeding out at the scene.
Moya was later shot dead by Oxford police in Coldwater.
Partridge said 14 officers were previously awarded the Medal of Merit, but this is the first time the distinction was given to officers outside the Oxford Police Department.
“These three individuals saved lives. Not only did they save police officers lives, but they saved our citizens’ lives,” Partridge said to a standing-room only crowd at Oxford City Hall Tuesday evening.
Stovall, who worked as an Oxford police officer before he was hired by Heflin in 2005, still requires crutches, but hopes to be back at the office soon.
“It’s been a long road,” he said.
Stovall has one more surgery scheduled and extensive physical therapy to complete before he’ll be ready for work. Since December, he has had five surgeries to repair the damage caused by Moya’s gunfire.
Stovall said he’s “very thankful for everything” and credits Lewis for saving his life that day.
“I wouldn’t be here without him,” he said. “God put him there to take care of me and get me to the hospital.”
Lewis described that December day as “emotional … seeing a fellow police officer shot.”
Lewis said as soon as he saw Stovall hurt he radioed for help and immediately applied pressure to the wound. After an ambulance arrived, Lewis rejoined the chase for Moya.
The trooper of 10 years said he was appreciative of the recognition.
Cofield said he felt he was “just doing his job that day” and it could have been anyone from his department involved in the chase.
The deputy of 10 years said he prays before every shift for the strength to handle any call that comes his way. While trading gunfire with Moya, Cofield said he tried to distract the shooter because he was worried for Stovall’s safety.
“I just tried to keep a cool head and did what I had to do,” Cofield said.
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.