2023 Top Cop Awards

LVMPD Officers Honored in National Ceremony

Photos courtesy of NAPO/Jenifer Morris Photography

The Las Vegas Police Protective Association is proud to recognize South Central Area Command Officer Tierney Tomburo, who received the highest honor from the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) at its 30th annual Top Cops Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on May 12, in conjunction with National Police Week. Each year, members of federal, state, county, tribal and local agencies nationwide nominate their partners and colleagues for extraordinary actions taken during incidents in the preceding year. From the hundreds of nominations, an independent committee of national law enforcement representatives selects one case for each of the 50 states and U.S. territories. The top 10 of those cases are named Top Cops Award winners.

Officer Tomburo was honored for her bravery after she and her partner, Officer Dueñas, stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation during the early morning hours of September 10, 2022. There were three men in the car: the driver, a front-seat passenger (later identified as Gabriel Charles, who had a long and violent criminal history) and a backseat passenger. All three suspects initially cooperated by getting out of the vehicle, but Charles suddenly began to run, and Tomburo chased him. As she quickly closed the gap, Charles turned around, drew a handgun and fired it once, hitting Tomburo in her left leg and breaking her pelvis. Tomburo collapsed to the ground, but despite being in severe pain, she was able to unholster her service weapon and fire four shots in the near-total darkness. Charles was struck twice, once in the foot and once in the torso, the second shot proving fatal. After radioing for help, Dueñas created a makeshift tourniquet and placed it around her pelvis. She was rushed to University Medical Center, underwent surgery and has been able to make a gradual — though long and difficult — recovery. 

Shortly after the incident, Metro Assistant Sheriff John McGrath praised Officer Tomburo for her bravery. “I would say that she’s a great example of a hero police officer,” McGrath said during a press conference. “She showed her courage, and she showed calm under pressure, and I think she did an outstanding job. We’re all very proud of her.” 

Officer Derek Berger also received an honorable mention at the ceremony. Thank you, Officers Tomburo and Berger, for your courage and for putting your safety and well-being in harm’s way to protect our community. 

The full group of Top Cops Award winners included officers from agencies in Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas, as well as the FBI.