Patrol Officer Ryan Williams
City of Fond du Lac (WI) Police Department
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Patrol Officer Ryan Williams of the City of Fond du Lac (WI) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for December 2011.
On March 20, 2011, Officer Williams responded to a call of a sexual assault at a residential duplex. During the initial call to police, the victim informed authorities that the suspect had taken her six-year-old daughter hostage. When Officer Williams and two of his colleagues arrived at the scene, they learned that half of the duplex belonged to the victim; the other belonged to the suspect. The officers on scene cleared the victim’s side of the residence and gained entry to the suspect’s home via a basement door.
After clearing the first floor, the officers announced they were entering the second floor. Officer Williams took the lead position, and was struck in the shoulder by the suspect, who opened fire with a .308 rifle. The force of the gunshot spun him around, and a second shot landed in the left side of his back, near his shoulder blade. Losing balance, he fell down the staircase into one of his colleagues. The other officers safely removed Officer Williams from the building. “The moment I was shot I was in total fear. My lungs filled up with blood and I thought it was a fatal wound. I thought about my kids instantly and I knew I had to get out of the house,” Officer Williams recalled.
Officer Williams was airlifted to the hospital while additional officers arrived on the scene, met by the suspect’s gunfire. During the ensuing gunfight, Officer Williams’ K-9, Grendel, and fellow Fond du Lac Officer Craig Birkholz were shot before the suspect took his own life. Tragically, Officer Birkholz later succumbed to his injuries, and the difficult road to recovery began for Officer Williams, Grendel, the Fond du Lac Police Department and the community as a whole.
“While Officer Williams’ actions on that day were admirable, it has been his actions after that day that have had the most impact. Despite significant trauma to his body, he was able to leave the hospital within a few short days to attend the funeral of Officer Birkholz. Officer Williams’ drive and determination to attend that funeral was an inspiration to every officer and civilian that witnessed his attendance,” writes Captain Jon Gutzman of the Fond du Lac Police Department.
Remarkably, Officer Williams and his K-9, Grendel, recovered and were able to return to duty just three months after the incident. Officer Williams made it his goal to visit every classroom in the area to personally thank all of the school children that sent him cards during his recovery. In his support of Officer Williams’ nomination, Lieutenant Jason Lariden of the Fond du Lac Police Department wrote, “In addition to being Fond du Lac’s unofficial spokesperson, he has attended countless public events telling his story, telling our story and reminding people that even though he survived, Fond du Lac lost a great police officer named Craig Birkholz.”
For his actions that day, Officer Williams was awarded the Fond du Lac’s Medal of Valor and Purple Heart. In addition to these awards, Officer Williams has also received the department’s Life Saving Award on three separate occasions. The nine-year veteran continues to serve with the Fond du Lac Police Department and is a member of the Wisconsin Police Association.
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Officer Williams, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2011, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2012 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s 2013 calendar.
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.