When Charlie Cangelosi heard the screams of a pregnant woman being robbed at gunpoint Nov. 7, he rushed across a darkened Tigerland parking lot to help.
He collided with the gunman, and the encounter resulted in Cangelosi suffering a near-fatal gunshot wound that took months to recover from.
In an emotional moment that garnered a standing ovation from the audience Tuesday night, the woman, Micah Dollar, presented Cangelosi with the Citizen’s Commendation award during the Baton Rouge Police Department’s Chief’s Meritorious Awards and Commendations ceremony.
Several police officers, supervisors and civilian employees were honored for their extraordinary work in 2010.
Officers received life-saving awards and commendations for instances in which their actions stood out from the daily efforts of their fellow police officers.
“But it’s important to remember we could give out dozens, if not hundreds of these awards,” said Sgt. Donald Stone, a police spokesman. “These are the individuals who are representative of a larger group.”
Among those honored were Officer Douglas Chutz, who received the Medal of Merit for stopping an attempted rape in progress and chasing down the assailant on Nov. 29, and Cpl. Mickey Duncan, who was named Police Officer of the Year for having the most DWI arrests at 170 in 2010.
The recipients of the awards are chosen by an appointed panel which sorts through hundreds of commendation and recommendation letters from officers, supervisors and the public.
Interim Police Chief Charles Mondrick said one of the greatest joys of his short tenure as chief has been sitting at his desk, reading these letters of praise.
“To stand in arms with you and give these special awards for bravery, service and leadership,” he said. “It is a great honor.”
Mondrick also took the time to reflect on his time as the head of the Police Department, which will end in the coming weeks, joking that “it’s been a wild ride” before turning serious and emotional.
“I appreciate your courage, professionalism and what you sacrifice,” Mondrick said. “I know you have an uphill battle to get this city back to where you want it and where the citizens deserve it to be.”
“You’re here to fight,” he said. “And you will prevail.”
James Llorens, assistant chief administrative officer for Mayor-President Kip Holden, expressed sincere appreciation and especially called Cangelosi’s actions “true heroism.”
“To step up and do what’s right, you represent the best of this community,” Llorens said.
Cangelosi, who has remained modest about his actions despite being lauded in the community as a hero, said it was “an honor just to be included” among the other recipients.
“What I did, they do on a daily basis,” he said.
Dollar was emotional as Stone introduced Cangelosi to the audience, wiping several tears as the events of the robbery were rehashed.
“Just hearing the story again,” she later said, “I didn’t even know him and he did that for me.”
Tuesday night’s ceremony was the first time Dollar and Cangelosi had met in person.
Caneglosi and his family sat at a table with Dollar during the banquet, talking animatedly and playing with Dollar’s 4-month-old daughter, Kayden Ashford.
Dollar was eight months pregnant when she was slammed against her car and robbed.
“I was nervous to meet him tonight, but he’s a really nice guy,” she said. “I really hope we can keep in touch after this.”