Utah Man Honored for Helping Wyoming Trooper
A Utah man was honored during a ceremony in Cheyenne on Monday for helping subdue a suspect who had tried to take a Wyoming state trooper's gun during a traffic stop on Interstate 80 earlier this year.
Darren Phillips of Taylorsville, Utah, received the Colonel's Commendation Award from Wyoming Highway Patrol Colonel Kelbin Haller. Also in attendance were Governor Matt Mead, Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos and Trooper Josh Carris, whom Phillips assisted during the May 31 incident.
According to Patrol Sgt. Kyle McKay, Carris stopped a vehicle on I-80 near Green River for an unspecified moving violation. After speaking with the driver of the vehicle, Carris grew suspicious that the vehicle was involved in criminal activity.
Carris deployed his drug detection dog, and the dog alerted to the odor of controlled substances inside the vehicle.
Carris moved to detain the suspect, but the suspect tried to get away by running out into traffic on the interstate. Carris put himself in danger by pulling the suspect back off of the interstate, and the suspect then fought with the trooper in an effort to take the trooper's service weapon.
Philips was driving a tractor-trailer and saw the fight. He stopped and got out to help, and quickly realized something was wrong.
"The trooper looked at me and said, 'He's going for my gun,''" Phillips said in a statement from the Patrol. "They both had their hands on the trooper's pistol. I just immediately thought, I need to get this guy off this trooper. That's when my military training kicked in."
Phillips used a choke hold in order to restrain the driver.
"I got behind the suspect, put my arm around his neck, stood up and fell back and got the guy in a choke hold," Phillips said. "I made sure I didn't let go."
Carris and a second trooper who arrived at the scene were then able to apprehend the suspect.
"He saved my life," Carris said of Phillips. "The suspect and I were fighting for my gun. Mr. Phillips stopped and assisted me and I'm grateful for his assistance."
The Patrol says 74 pounds of marijuana and a gram of cocaine were found in the suspect's vehicle. The suspect was identified as 36-year-old Dustin Roberts of McKinleyville, California.
Phillips said that he pulled over and got out to help because he saw a state trooper in trouble.
"No one else was stopping and I thought, 'I've got to stop and help,'" Phillips said. "The men and women of law enforcement are the real heroes out there. I've dedicated my life to serving my country and this was the least I could do."
Phillips served 14 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, then spent another 12 years in the Army National Guard as a crew chief in a Black Hawk helicopter, including two tours of duty in Iraq.
"Thank you for the example you've set for the people of Wyoming," Mead said during Monday's ceremony. "Your decision to stop and lend assistance means you have saved lives."
"For you to stop not knowing what the situation was and help is a remarkable reflection on you as a person," Panos told Phillips. "We are honored that you offered your assistance to our family and helped someone in need."
"You saved one person from sustaining severe injuries and you saved not only one life but possibly two lives," Haller said. "The suspect is a habitual convicted felony and we are forever in your debt."