JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The life of a fallen Independence police officer is remembered through a new honor in Missouri.

Gov. Mike Parson presented Missouri’s Public Safety Medals to two dozen first responders for their heroic actions during 2021.

One of the awards, the Red, White and Blue Heart Award, is presented to a first responder who is critically injured or killed while in the line of duty.

Independence police officer Blaize Madrid-Evans is one of the first officers to receive the award. Madrid-Evans died Sept. 15, 2021, while investigating a tip about a man wanted for aggravated assault.

He was one of four Independence police officers who responded to the house. The suspect noticed the officers as they approached the garage. Officers said the suspect pulled a handgun and began shooting. He hit and killed Madrid-Evans.

The 22-year-old officer graduated from the police academy two months before his death and was undergoing field training at the time of the shooting.

Madrid-Evans was an organ donor. He helped improve the lives of 75 people following his death. That includes Springfield, Missouri Police Officer Mark Priebe. The officer had been paralyzed in the line of duty in 2020 and received one of Madrid-Evans’ kidneys, which saved his life, according to doctors.

A total of five officers were honored with the Red, White and Blue Heart Award.

The awards presented Wednesday morning are Missouri’s highest recognition for first responders acting during critical incidents.

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