Ambushed Police Officer Honored For Bravery At Thunder Game

Thursday, January 13th 2011, 11:06 pm
By: News 9

Rusty Surette, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY – A police officer who survived a nearly deadly ambush in August was honored at Thursday's Oklahoma City Thunder game for her bravery.

Katie Lawson is an Oklahoma City police officer who came close to losing her life doing something officers do every day.

In August 2010 the 27-year-old had just finished helping an Oklahoma County Sheriff's deputy arrest a man, Hector Mercado, for DUI. Shortly after Officer Lawson left that scene, someone with a gun opened fire on her car in the 3900 block of North Miller.

Officer Lawson was hit, but managed to return fire and call for help.

"I contribute my survival to number one the Lord. I believe he brought me out of that moment alive. And also my training, it kicked in even when I didn't think about it. It kicked in and helped me get through it, the situation," said Officer Lawson.

Lawson was struck numerous times in the leg, face and other parts of the body. She had been on the force for four years when the shooting happened.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said it was the most heroic police work he has seen in more than 30 years on the force.

Lawson received the Devon Energy Community Hero Award after the first quarter of Thursday night's game against the Orlando Magic.

"I'm happy that I reacted that way. Like I said I think the Lord allowed me to act that way and without me thinking about it He allowed me to act in a way that saved my life. And whether that be what I did, or several angels around me, I'm just very fortunate," said Officer Lawson.

Police say Mercado's family was responsible for the shooting of Officer Lawson.

Officers arrested Mercado's wife, 52-year-old Vilma Escalante, and her two sons, 18-year-old Hector Escalante and 17-year-old Alex Mercado. Investigators believe while Vilma Escalante pleaded with the Oklahoma County Deputy to release her husband, her sons were ambushing Officer Lawson.

Vilma and Hector Escalante are scheduled to be in court next week. Alex Mercado is scheduled to be there later in January. All three are facing several charges including shooting with intent to kill.