South LA crime-fighting residents awarded for courage

Five courageous citizens were honored today at the final Courageous Citizen Awards ceremony of the year. | District Attorney Twitter

Five courageous citizens were honored today at the final Courageous Citizen Awards ceremony of the year. | District Attorney Twitter

Three South Los Angeles residents were among the handful of Angelenos named recipients of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office’s Courageous Citizen Award because of their courage and acts of selflessness.

The award was created, according to the District Attorney’s office, to commend individuals who have acted with courage in the face of personal risk to help a victim of crime, capture a suspect or testify in high-pressure situations. The District Attorney presents the awards several times a year, and this season’s award presentation took place Wednesday. The program was started in 1986, according to a District Attorney spokesperson.

“Our community is a safer place because these local heroes refused to look the other way when others needed help,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “The courage displayed by each of these honorees is nothing short of remarkable.”

In 2009, Samuel Gibson rescued a woman who had been beaten, stabbed and cut on the face by her ex-boyfriend who was threatening to kill her. According to police records, the boyfriend had screamed, “If I can’t have you, no one will!” Gibson arrived to the scene while the boyfriend was still assaulting the woman, and was told to leave or else he would face bodily harm.

Aligning with the criteria for receiving the honor, Gibson, who was unarmed, continued to approach the assailant and was eventually able to grab the victim and take her into safety until the police arrived. Gibson later went testified against the assailant, despite the threat of death or harm. The ex-boyfriend of the victim was found guilty by the jury and is now serving a life sentence in state prison.

Four years after Gibson’s acts, Javiera Guarda and Suga Brown-Faal witnessed a man slam his 4-month-old pit bull against the pavement. Guarda reacted to this display of animal cruelty by screaming and calling the police at the pit bull’s owner.

A couple of weeks later, Guarda witnessed the same neighborhood abusing the dog by dragging the pit bull down the sidewalk, according to police reports. She called the police. Brown-Faal, who was not with Guarda but all witnessed the dog abuse, used her phone to take photos and videos of the assault.

Brown-Faal gave the images and footage to the police, which later assisted in identifying the pit bull owner. The DA’s Office brought two counts of animal abuse charges against the owner, and he is now serving a 16-month sentence in state prison.

The Southwest and 77th divisions of Los Angeles Police Department handled and investigated these cases.

According to a District Attorney spokesperson, recipients of this honor are nominated by prosecutors and are selected after the defendants in the related trials have been sentenced.

The other recipients of the award were Malibu residents Michael Miller and Joseph Evans, who helped rescue a young girl who had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted.

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