Dallas police honor officer shot in the line of duty

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A Dallas police officer was honored Thursday for her courage and determination after surviving a shooting that killed her partner almost a year ago.

The Dallas Police Department gave Officer Crystal Almeida the Theodore Roosevelt Award.

Each year, the award goes to officers who have “overcome an adversity, whether injury, illness or other disability, and who have rendered, and continue to render, outstanding and praiseworthy service to the Dallas Police Department.”

Officer Almeida was shot and injured, along with Home Depot loss prevention officer Scott Painter, while trying to arrest a suspect last April. Her partner, Officer Rogelio Santander Jr., was killed during the same incident.

Armando Juarez was arrested the night of the shooting after a chase. He’s charged with murder and aggravated assault and still awaiting trial.

Officer Almeida, who lost an eye during the ordeal, has never spoken publicly about the deadly incident. 

"This past year has been very difficult and life-altering," she said as she accepted the award. "I have learned a lot about myself in this time and continue to learn something every day."

A packed house was on its feet Thursday applauding Almeida, who looked death in the face and did not blink.

"Officer Almeida continues to serve and is determined to be courageous each and every day as a member of our gang unit," Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said.

Officer Almeida thanked her family, friends, fellow officers and all the members of the community who prayed for her after the shooting. She also thanked God for helping her heal so quickly and allowing her to continue to live her life.

She said she remembers waking up in the hospital and asking how everyone else was doing. She spent a month in the hospital and a few months in therapy. 

"I remember being frustrated and angry that I couldn't do things that I used to easily. But I was the happiest when I was able to return to work," she said. "I look forward to the knowledge I get every day and to do the thing I love the most -- helping people."

She returned to work three months to the day after the incident. The El Paso native has relatives who work at Dallas PD.

The Texas chapter of the Theodore Roosevelt Association said Almeida deserves the thanks.

"It is an honor to be in her company and to recognize her today," said Toby Roosevelt, who is a descendant of Theodore Roosevelt. "Thank you so much for your courage."

DPD said Officer Almeida is in her fourth year with the department and continues to be a vital member.