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Amherst County deputy awarded Medal of Valor for actions in 2017 shooting

Deputy Erin Napier was just two year into her career when a late-night traffic stop turned to chaos

Amherst County deputy awarded Medal of Valor for actions in 2017 shooting
Amherst County deputy awarded Medal of Valor for actions in 2017 shooting

AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – An Amherst County investigator is being recognized for her actions in a 2017 shootout.

Erin Napier was awarded the Medal of Valor, which is reserved for people who exhibit “exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.”

Napier was just two years into her career as a deputy when a late-night traffic stop turned to chaos.

“You train for it in the academy, still you never really think it’s going to happen to you,” Napier says. “That night it did.”

According to the sheriff’s office, Napier and three other officers were conducting a traffic stop on Sept. 22, 2017.

Authorities said that while the officers were attempting to investigate, someone started shooting at them and a lieutenant on the scene was shot in the head.

“I remember the call coming out. I saw her and I was really proud of her,” Captain Juette Renalds with Amherst County Sheriff’s Office says. “That’s a lot for a young officer to do, and the way she went through it.”

Napier shot back and hit the suspect who shot the lieutenant, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Valor Award is the highest honor awarded by the American Police Work Dog Association.

“She’s an excellent officer. What she did didn’t surprise me,” Senior Master Trainer Ben Bennett says with the NAPWDA. “She reacted as she was trained to react, and I really believe that her intervention saved Lieutenant’s life.”

Napier was nominated for the award and approved to receive it in 2019, but coronavirus delayed the ceremony.

“People that have been on the streets for 15 or 20 years can make a bad decision,” Captain Renalds says. “She did everything right, and her Lieutenant is here because of that.”

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About the Author:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a digital content producer in July 2018.