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Everyday Hero: Robert Williams wins Vancouver Police citation for bravery

Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain, right, congratulates Robert Williams with a department certificate. (CVTV)

A Vancouver man who came to the aid of a police officer as she struggled to contain a combative woman accused of child abuse was honored for bravery earlier this month by the Vancouver Police Department.

It was a beautiful afternoon last Memorial Day and insurance agent Robert Williams was mowing the lawn outside his home in east Vancouver.

“I was just cutting the grass and my daughter runs in the backyard and says, ‘Dad, someone needs help out front,’” Williams said. “I just went out there to see what I can do. And it happened to be an officer who needed my help.”

Officer Janelle Cusick was dispatched to the neighborhood to perform a welfare check.

Callers to 911 said a woman, who appeared inebriated, dropped a 17-month-old child on his head on the sidewalk, fracturing his skull.

When Officer Cusick tried to help her from the ground, she began to struggle.

Witnesses said it appeared the woman was trying to get Cusick’s gun.

“If I think back over it it's because I knew she was by herself,” Williams said as the reason he intervened. “At the moment I knew backup was coming; we can hear that.”

Williams sprang into action, pinning the woman's legs to the ground.

“I ran into a situation that I wasn’t aware of and what the circumstances were. But as I got closer, I could see that the officer had most of it under control,” he said. “As to why? I just did it, you know, it just happened. My daughter, maybe it was her -- she was panicked and that kind of put some fear into me to go and help."

The backup officers arrived and were able to take the woman into custody.

But even after she was arrested, she continued to fight, spitting, biting and kicking a medic in the groin, despite being in leg restraints and handcuffs.

“It happened fast. I don't know timeline and how many minutes, whatever, I just know everything was just, boom boom boom,” he said.

While there was no mention in news reports about Williams’s actions that day, last week he received a department citation, a citizen award for people who "bravely come to the aid of an officer or another citizen."

“I'm still kind of shocked about it all, receiving an award and just doing what I thought was the right thing, being a big deal,” he said. “It's a blessing and an honor to have people say you did a good thing. Any opportunity you get to help someone and that's recognized, that's kind of cool.”

Williams said he was expecting a low-key affair, maybe just a few people during the Vancouver Police Department's award ceremony.

Instead, there were about 100 people in attendance, including a few other everyday heroes.

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