Racing to respond to the scene of a fatal stabbing, Crosby Officer Robert DePaoli put himself at serious risk.
Law enforcement officers across the state recognized DePaoli for his actions last week when he received the Medal of Honor from the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. The organization presented DePaoli with the award at its banquet Tuesday, April 16, at the St. Cloud Convention Center.
DePaoli was the first officer to respond to a report of a stabbing in progress Jan. 13, 2018, at Heartwood Senior Living Community. A graduate of Brainerd High School and Central Lakes College, DePaoli has served the Crosby Police Department since 2013. Prior to being an officer, he worked as an emergency medical technician with North Memorial Ambulance.
"Officer DePaoli made entry into the facility on his own at great personal risk and made his way to the scene of the attack," reported the Crosby Police Department Facebook page. "Through Officer DePaoli's actions he was able to capture and secure the attacker, who was still on scene and armed, and render aide to the fatally wounded victim."
The attack by David Michael Otey of Cambridge killed 38-year-old Danyele Marie Johnson, his older sister. Johnson was an employee of the senior living complex. Otey was recently found guilty by reason of mental illness and is living in a locked direct care and treatment facility at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center, a state psychiatric hospital in Anoka.
Crosby Police Chief Kim Coughlin said she was very proud of DePaoli for his skillful response to the call.
"I'm very impressed with how he handled the situation and I strongly believe that had he not handled it in the fashion he did, I do believe there could have been further injury and death," Coughlin said. "We do this every day in situations. In this particular situation, it's the first murder we've had since 1997, so a very high stress situation and he handled that very well."