Officer receives life-saving award for actions taken after shooting at Bridge Street Town Centre

Officer Joel Stephens and his family pose for photos after he earns Meritorious Service Medal

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Thursday, Huntsville police and city leaders began the city council meeting by honoring Officer Joel Stephens.

Chief Mark McMurray said Officer Stephens was working a second job providing security at the Cinemark Monaco theater at Bridge Street Town Centre when a shooting happened just outside on August 5.

McMurray explained that Stephens heard the gunshots, immediately took steps to put the theater on lockdown and then ran toward the scene.

Police later learned two teenagers were involved in an altercation that resulted in a shooting just outside the front doors of the Cinemark Monaco Saturday evening around 9:30 that night.

One teenager was bleeding badly when Stephens arrived, said McMurray.

“Where everyone else was running away, Joel quickly located a victim who was quickly bleeding to death. It was a very serious gunshot to a major artery,” McMurray explained to those gathered at the council meeting. “Joel’s training allowed him to strap down this person’s bleeding artery using another person’s belt.”

The Chief said those actions saved the young victim’s life.

Officer Joel Stephens accepts award from HPD Chief Mark McMurray on October 12, 2017.
Photo: Kristen Conner/WHNT News 19

“Joel, you did a great job. You also stabilized the scene. You kept it from getting worse. It was a very chaotic scene,” McMurray told Stephens just before presenting him with the life-saving Meritorious Service Medal. It is one of the most prestigious awards HPD offers.

The shooting suspect is facing a charge of assault in the first degree. Lt. Stacy Bates said last August that the 15-year-old from Huntsville turned himself in. Because both involved are juveniles, their names were never released.

Officer Stephens has been working for HPD for 21 years.