Family of fallen Independence officer, other law enforcement honored at annual event

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RIVERSIDE, Mo. — A milestone event as the Kansas City metro Chiefs and Sheriffs’ Association presented Awards for Valor.

It’s their 50th annual event highlighting the good law enforcement does in the community.

It was an emotional day for brothers and sisters in blue.

The Valor Awards signify courage under intense situations.

Law enforcement officers from Overland Park, Kansas to Independence, Missouri were honored at the Argosy Casino in Riverside.

Two officers received standing ovations. One of them was Officer Payton Prock with the Lenexa Police Department. The 22-year-old found out on the spot he was this year’s Officer of the Year.

“I’m just very surprised,” Prock said. “Very thankful for my department and the community I work for.”

That was clear on May 25.

Prock and these other officers responded to a hotel where a man was assaulting a woman.

Police broke down the door and the suspect started shooting, hitting an officer.

Prock fired his weapon with one hand, while pulling the wounded officer to safety.

“We’re extremely proud of the actions of all the officers, but especially Payton,” Lenexa Police Chief Dawn Layman said. “

Peers choose the gold award winners.

Two officers were not there physically, but in spirit:

Officer Freddie Castro of Overland Park, for bravery in a shootout with a suspect. He died earlier this year from complications of COVID-19.

And Blaize Madrid-Evans who was with the Independence Police Department.

“Just two months after graduating from the police academy he was excited to be out in the community and eager to help,” Master of Ceremony Loren Halifax said.

At age 22, a suspect shot and killed Madrid-Evans while serving a warrant.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Layman said. “I wish his family will heal in the days ahead, but we will never forget his service.”

Stepmom Sharon Braley accepted the award on his behalf.

“He would have been over the moon,” Braley said. “We are absolutely honored that people still want to honor him and keep his name alive.”

When Braley saw everyone in the room rise to their feet, the feeling of gratitude was overwhelming.

“They’re the ones that are still out there on the streets and putting their uniform every day, knowing that this could happen at any second,” Braley said. “Because you don’t plan on it. Nobody expects it, but it could happen. So, I just want to thank all of them for being here as well.”

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