August 11, 2015 was a seemingly normal day for officers on duty for the Puyallup Police Department.
For Detective Micah Wilson and now-retired Detective Scott Bramhall, it was their actions on that fateful day which earned them the Washington State Law Enforcement Medal of Honor.
Terault then led officers on a eight-minute chase while shooting at them numerous times. Bramhall, a plainclothes detective, shot Terault in the leg, and Wilson, at the time a patrol officer, pinned Terault under his police car, police reports say.
Wilson said he was ambushed by the suspect before six rounds were fired at him from 15 feet away. The suspect took off, and Wilson pursued him again. The suspect then attempted to flee, firing at Wilson yet again.
Bramhall began firing at the suspect as well before Wilson pinned him under his patrol car. Terault was then taken into custody after receiving first aid from the officers he was firing at.
“It’s what I would expect from police officers,” said Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter, who nominated Bramhall and Wilson for the award. “But, by definition, they went above and beyond putting themselves in harm’s way. Micah, I think was shot at five or six times and continued to pursue him, and same with Detective Bramhall. He’s a detective, so he’s in plain clothes, so he didn’t have time to throw on his vest and put himself in harm’s way, knowing this guy has shot somebody else already and had shot at least four police officers that we know of, and other citizens.”
Wilson and Bramhall join Puyallup officers Gary Shilley and Jon Waller, who have also received the medal of honor. With Bramhall now retired, three current active members of PPD have received the medal of honor.
“I don’t know of too many agencies of our size that have three active medal of honor recipients,” Jeter said.
Wilson has been with PPD for 10 years, and has been a police officer for 16 years. He says the department trains for active-shooter scenarios, but what happened that fateful day in August was the first time Wilson had to put the training into action.
I had the thought that this was just like training, but the bullets were real. We train with similar situations where we fire guns that are the same as our duty weapons, but fire paintballs, and I serve as a member of the Metro SWAT Team, which that training helped prepare me.
Detective Micah Wilson
“I had the thought that this was just like training, but the bullets were real,” Wilson said. “We train with similar situations where we fire guns that are the same as our duty weapons, but fire paintballs, and I serve as a member of the Metro SWAT Team, which that training helped prepare me.”
While training prepared Wilson, when live bullets start flying, it isn’t easy to anticipate how one is going to react.
“It has a potent effect on you when you’re getting shot at,” he said. “You don’t really know how you’re going to react until you’re getting shot at.”
Wilson didn’t have any second thoughts about returning to work after being put on leave — per department protocol — after the shooting.
“A lot of law enforcement is preparing for the worst,” he said. “You don’t know how you’re going to react. It validated my time and training.”
The 38-year-old Wilson calls the award “a huge honor.”
“It took my breath away when I found out,” he said.
Bramhall retired from PPD in the fall, but had served with the department for 33 years.
“I was just doing my job,” he said of the award. “Chief Jeter is a very kind man for nominating me. He promotes his people.”
Jeter said he couldn’t be more proud of the department’s work that day.
“I know that any of our officers would have done that,” he said. “That day, many of our officers acted heroically. There are nine officers that got the medal of honor for their actions that day as department medal of honors, in addition to the state medal of honor. I’m certainly not surprised, but I couldn’t be more proud in the way that the department performed that day.”
Puyallup police have had four other recipients of the Washington State Law Enforcement Medal of Honor:
▪ Constable William Jeffery (Sept. 30, 1894)
▪ Chief Frank Chadwick and officer Harry Storem (both July 15, 1935); both died in the line of duty
▪ Officer Gary Shilley, who survived a gunshot wound to the face in 2006
▪ Officer Jon Waller, who now works for Puyallup, received the medal in 2013 while working for Lakewood police
The ceremony is slated for noon Friday (May 6) at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.
Wilson will be unable to attend the ceremony, but will have his father, a retired Seattle police officer, and his son accept the award on his behalf. Bramhall is expected to be in attendance.