“When I first got there I was thinking, ‘We’ll just place cuffs on the suspect and that will be it, we’ll be on our way.’ But once the suspect had possession of the weapon, the whole situation changed. We were just fighting for our lives at that point.”

Gerardo Gonzalez,

Pharr police officer

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“You never stop being a cop,” is a phrase that is echoed by many in the law enforcement community, specifically those who retire from public service.

But those words are more than just a phrase for individuals who take the oath to serve and protect their communities. It becomes a lifestyle, one that doesn’t cease at the end of the day.

One example is Pharr police officer Gerardo Gonzalez, 24, whose quick thinking while being off-duty helped a fellow officer in another city apprehend a violent individual. That city’s police department hailed Gonzalez as an individual who potentially saved that officer’s life.

Gonzalez was honored by the city of Pharr last Tuesday during a city commission meeting, in which he was recognized with a letter by George West Police Department interim Chief Jimmy Loya.

“Officer Gonzalez showed his true ability to think and react to a stressful situation which I believe ultimately diffused the violent altercation,” the letter read. “We at the George West Police Department want to recognize Officer Gonzalez for his assistance and fast thinking that most likely saved our officer from a possible deadly interaction. Pharr Police Department should be proud to have Officer Gonzalez on their side, a true example of a police officer.”

The incident occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 18, in the area of Highway 281 north of George West as Gonzalez and his family took a vacation to San Antonio.

“I was going on vacation with my family, my son and my wife,” Gonzalez said. “We were driving to San Antonio, and as we were passing through George West I observed a George West PD with the lights on.”

The George West police officer was attempting to detain a man suspected of stealing a vehicle.

As Gonzalez drove by the area, he said that he saw the police officer with his stun gun drawn and saw that the officer had already discharged the cartridges.

Upon realizing that the officer was alone in his attempt to apprehend the suspect, Gonzalez decided to turn around and provide support.

“I got off and identified myself as an officer,” Gonzalez said. “We were trying to pin the subject, but he started resisting on us. At some point, we all fell to the floor.”

It was during this scuffle that the suspect managed to take possession of the police officer’s gun. This is where Gonzalez said his police training helped de-escalate the situation.

“At that point, we were just fighting for the weapon. I was able to take the magazine out of the weapon and I discharged the last round toward a dirt area,” Gonzalez said.

The Pharr police officer said that he did not anticipate those circumstances unfolding when he decided to stop and assist the George West officer.

“It was a hard place to be,” Gonzalez said. “When I first got there I was thinking, ‘We’ll just place cuffs on the suspect and that will be it, we’ll be on our way.’ But once the suspect had possession of the weapon, the whole situation changed.

“We were just fighting for our lives at that point.”

Despite the obvious risks, Gonzalez said that if he found himself in a similar situation, he would not hesitate to act in similar fashion.

“That’s what I signed up for,” Gonzalez said. “It’s part of the job. We always say that we’re law enforcement 24-7.”