By Joe Murchison
Three Laurel police officers received a rare honor from their department this fall for heroic actions during the service of an arrest warrant, an effort that resulted in one of the officers being shot.
Police Chief Russ Hamill bestowed the department’s Medal of Valor on Sgt. Sean Fabel, and Officers Steven Kibbey and Matthew Zimmerman. The medal is the department’s highest award and has not been bestowed since approximately 2014.
The department has not released the specific identity of the officer who was shot, citing a privacy request from his family.
The awards stem from an incident on April 20, when the three officers were serving the warrant at about 6 a.m. at an apartment in the 100 block of Bryan Court, near the intersection of routes 198 and 197. The suspect, Christopher Grayson Simms, was wanted on attempted-murder charges after being suspected of firing numerous shots on nearby Bowie Road at midday, nine days prior.
The officers were part of the department’s specially-trained Emergency Response Team (ERT), which broke open the apartment door and announced their presence. The suspect answered with a shot fired from inside the apartment, which struck one of the officers in the arm as he stood outside the door.
In a press conference at the time, Hamill described what followed — something quite different from the highly publicized no-knock warrant incidents that led to the 2020 death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and Amir Locke in Minneapolis this year.
“That officer heroically maintained his position [outside the apartment door] after being shot, protecting the community and his teammates,” Hamill said. “He gave commands to the defendant while notifying his teammates he had been shot. He then continued to give commands to the defendant that also helped maintain his safety. … He was then advised by team leaders to move out of his position while another ERT officer selflessly moved into that position, knowing that an officer had just been shot at that same spot.”
Hamill said that the officers never fired their weapons, but rather used de-escalation techniques to convince Simms to surrender, promising him that he would not be harmed or injured. The third Medal of Valor awardee, standing in the line of fire near the officer who had taken the wounded officer’s place, helped convince Simms to put down his gun and exit the apartment.
Simms was charged with attempted murder for the police shooting, adding to his previous attempted murder charge. He is scheduled for trial on Dec. 13.
The wounded officer, who was treated at a hospital after Simms’s arrest, has fully recovered and is back on full duty.