The Dover Police Department presented local resident, Michael Babiak with the Distinguished Citizen Award on Friday, January 8th in a small ceremony at the Dover Police Department. The Distinguished Citizen Service Award may be awarded to any private citizen who has performed an exceptional deed or assisted members of the Department in the performance of their duties without regard to their personal safety.
Mr. Babiak received this award due to his selfless actions in helping an officer who was pursuing an armed suspect on December 28th, 2020, at a minimum preventing a more significant event from occurring and possibly saving the lives of the officer, area residents, and the suspect.
Chief Thomas A. Johnson Jr. read the following statement recognizing Mr. Babiak’s actions:
Around noon on Monday, December 28, 2020 the Dover Police Department Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call from a domestic violence victim. In the presence of her child, a victim had been physically assaulted by her boyfriend in their room at the Red Roof Inn located in the 600 Block of N. DuPont Highway. The initial victim provided the dispatcher a physical description of the suspect, as he had already fled the scene, and the call was broadcast to police units on duty in the area.
A subject matching the broadcast description was observed on foot in the 800 Block of N. State Street. This individual immediately fled upon the approach of uniform Officers. The subsequent foot pursuit moved across an open property toward the intersection of Overlook Place and Vista Avenue.
The person we honor today, Mr. Michael Babiak, is a resident of the Overlook neighborhood who was outside of his home playing soccer with his family. He observed the police activity coming in his direction and made eye contact with Master Corporal Ian Thompson who was running directly behind the suspect. When M/Cpl. Thompson yelled for Mr. Babiak to “get inside!”, Mike thought he yelled “get him!”
With a rapidly evolving situation before him, and very little time to consider his options, Mr. Babiak immediately moved in on the suspect’s path of travel. As he made this decision, the suspect was beginning to focus his attention on M/Cpl. Thompson and produced a .45 Cal. Semi-automatic pistol from his jacket pocket.
Before the suspect could further his actions, Mr. Babiak tackled him by surprise, from beyond his field of vision. The impact of the two men caused the weapon to come free from the suspect’s hand and fall to the ground. Mr. Babiak followed through by holding the suspect in what has been described as a “bear hug” until Officers could take the suspect into police custody.
It was later determined that the pistol was loaded and the identifying marks had been destroyed. Also recovered from the suspect was a quantity of pre-packaged heroin in an amount that met the definition of felony “intent to distribute.” At the time of this presentation, the suspect remains in custody pending his first court appearance.
I became aware of these events when M/Cpl. Thompson submitted Mr. Babiak for the Dover Police Department “Distinguished Citizen Service Award”. In that submission, M/Cpl. Thompson remarked that “…I am extremely grateful for Michael Babiak’s bravery, and disregard for his own safety, which may have saved my life.”
This statement alludes to all of the potentially tragic outcomes that might have transpired had Mike not acted how and when he did. If the suspect chose to engage in a gun fight, he would have certainly had the advantage of firing first, at an Officer with a holstered weapon, and no appreciable cover. There is a very high likelihood that his gun fire would have been met with justified return fire.
Serious bodily injury, or death, may have been the result to Officers, innocent civilians and of course the suspect, if Mr. Babiak did not react in such an exemplary fashion. Mr. Babiak does not work in the public safety profession. The foot chase was about to enter a residential neighborhood at the time Mike put a stop to it. He was not aware of the firearm until after it fell from the suspect’s hand.
In my view, the fact that Mr. Babiak did not make his decision with the knowledge of the firearm’s presence, or a complete understanding of the potential consequences, does not diminish from the courage he displayed in defense of his family and community.
In his mind, he had been called to serve and he answered it quickly and effectively.