JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The State Attorney's Office on Wednesday afternoon hosted the second annual Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer Awards, which recognizes the important work of law enforcement officers in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties.
More than two dozen awards in 10 categories were presented this year, including the Junior Lifesaving award that was given to 6-year-old Saman "Sam" Khaleel, who is credited for saving his mother's life.
"He was incredibly courageous," State Attorney Melissa Nelson said. "When we see how beautiful his relationship is with his mother, it just warms our hearts and so he has made an impact on a lot of people here at the State Attorney's Office."
In August 2018, Sam, who was 5 years old at the time, witnessed his mother, Farah Al Gburi, being shot. As she was lying on the sidewalk outside their apartment, Sam ran to a neighbor’s home for help. The neighbor called 911 and Sam told a dispatcher what happened. Rescue units reached his mother in time to save her life. She is now paralyzed from her waist down, but she is very proud of her son.
"I know he did a lot of things, I know he deserves it because he saved my life and he did awesome things," she said at Wednesday's event. "I’m so proud of him to get that from here."
She said she said her son's award is not just a piece of paper.
"It's very, very, very special," Sam's mother said. "I will put that in his room to make him remember what he did -- always."
VIEW: 2019 OLEO Awards agenda
During Wednesday's ceremony, the K-9 Valor Award was posthumously awarded to Jacksonville Sheriff's Office K-9 Fang. His handler, Officer M.L. Herrera, was presented the award.
K-9 Fang, a 3-year-old member of the JSO K-9 unit, was shot and killed in the line of duty in September 2018 while chasing a carjacking suspect.
"For all of the law enforcement officers and the stories that you heard today, and the canine we lost, you heard examples of heroism," Nelson said. "So today is a day that feels good."
Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill, which state Sen. Aaron Bean said was prompted by an I-TEAM investigation and named after K-9 Fang, into law, making it a second-degree felony, up from a third-degree felony, for people who kill or cause great bodily harm to police, fire or search-and-rescue dogs or police horses. The bill will go into effect Oct. 1.
Started in 2018, the OLEO Awards are held during National Police Week, which honors the service and sacrifice of law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies nominate their own members for work across a variety of award categories and recipients are selected by a committee.