The Dallas Morning News

For praisewort­hy service

She was back on job less than 3 months after shooting last year at Home Depot

- By CASSANDRA JARAMILLO Staff Writer cjaramillo@dallasnews.com Twitter: @cassandraj­ar

Dallas police Officer Crystal Almeida (right) received a hug from Chief U. Renee Hall before she was honored with the Theodore Roosevelt Police Award on Thursday at Jack Evans Police Headquarte­rs. Almeida was shot in the face while making an arrest at a Home Depot last year. Her partner, Rogelio Santander, was shot and killed.

Nearly a year after she was shot twice in the face and lost a close colleague while assisting with a shopliftin­g call, Dallas police Officer Crystal Almeida spoke publicly for the first time.

“This past year has been very difficult and lifealteri­ng,” said Almeida, who lost sight in one eye in the April 2018 shooting. “Thank you to everyone and anyone who prayed for us.”

Almeida was presented Thursday with the 2019 Theodore Roosevelt award, which honors Dallas officers who overcome injury, illness or disability to return to work.

Almeida and her partner, Rogelio Santander, were shot April 24, 2018, while they were responding to a call for backup at a Lake Highlands Home Depot.

A store security officer was also wounded while the officers tried to arrest the shopliftin­g suspect on an outstandin­g warrant.

Santander died the next day. The suspect, Armando Luis Juarez, was taken into custody after a fivehour manhunt and remains in jail on multiple charges, including capital murder.

During her difficult recovery, Almeida often thought about her fellow officers.

“After waking up, for what seemed like an eternity, I remember asking how everyone was doing and wanting to get back to work,” Almeida told the crowd of about 200 who gathered for the ceremony at Dallas police headquarte­rs.

The 27yearold officer, who joined the department in December 2014, returned to work three months after the shooting.

“Officer Almeida continues to serve and is determined to be courageous each and every day. Being a police officer is about family,” said Chief U. Renee Hall, who embraced Almeida as the audience rose for a standing ovation. “We love you.”

Almeida, who has several family members serving in law enforcemen­t, said her happiest time in the last year was when she returned to work in the gang unit.

“I look forward to the knowledge I learn every day and doing the thing I love the most: helping people,” she said.

 ?? Jeffrey Mcwhorter/special Contributo­r ??
Jeffrey Mcwhorter/special Contributo­r
 ?? Photos by Jeffrey Mcwhorter/special Contributo­r ?? Dallas police officers give Crystal Almeida a standing ovation. During recovery, Almeida said she thought about her fellow officers. “After waking up ... I remember asking how everyone was doing and wanting to get back to work,” she said.
Photos by Jeffrey Mcwhorter/special Contributo­r Dallas police officers give Crystal Almeida a standing ovation. During recovery, Almeida said she thought about her fellow officers. “After waking up ... I remember asking how everyone was doing and wanting to get back to work,” she said.
 ??  ?? Almeida was given the Theodore Roosevelt Police Award on Thursday. She was shot in the face while making an arrest last year at a Home Depot — an incident in which her partner, Rogelio Santander, was shot and killed.
Almeida was given the Theodore Roosevelt Police Award on Thursday. She was shot in the face while making an arrest last year at a Home Depot — an incident in which her partner, Rogelio Santander, was shot and killed.

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