ELK GROVE, Calif. (KGET) — A Delano correctional officer from the North Kern State Prison in Delano received the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s highest award at the 37th Annual Medal of Valor ceremony Friday at the Creekside Community Church at 10 a.m., according to the CDCR.
At the ceremony, the CDCR will recognize 44 individuals for their bravery. They will give the Bronze, Silver and Gold Corrections Stars, Correctional Officer and Supervisor of the Year and Distinguished Service Medals.
The CDCR said David Tapia is earning the Medal of Valor for demonstrating heroism above what is expected, according to a news release.
In a video, Tapia said he was tasked to pick up paperwork from the Delano courthouse and on his way construction led him to go through Randolph Street in Delano. Then he saw an individual throwing a rock at a Department of Human Services window.
He called 911, watched the situation and when he entered the parking lot the window shattered. Tapia said as he was getting out of his vehicle the individual lit a canister on fire and threw it inside the building.
The building then became fully engulfed in flames, he described the scene as “chaotic,” in the YouTube video. Tapia then confronted the individual, identified himself as an officer and held him at gunpoint. The Delano Police Department arrived and took the individual into custody.
Alejandro Mendoza Rodriguez was identified as the individual who set the building on fire, according to court documents. Rodriguez told police he targeted the building because it was a government building.
The CDCR will also recognize Special Agent Chad Greenwood from the U.S. Marshals in Bakersfield for saving a 17-year-old driver from a burning vehicle, according to the CDCR.
In July of 2021, Greenwood was on his way to the gym when he saw a crash, where the 17-year-old collided with a parked semi-truck, according to the CDCR. With other bystanders, he tried to help the driver out of the vehicle but none of the doors opened and the driver was pinned inside.
The CDCR said in a news release while waiting for the fire department to arrive Greenwood and bystanders got water from a nearby house and wet the flames. The driver sustained injuries and burns but survived.