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By Virgil Larson
The Omaha World-Herald

OMAHA, Neb. - Omaha said thanks to LaDon Stennis this morning with a proclamation, a plaque, a police baton and a weekend rental of a new motorcycle.
The proclamation came from Mayor Mike Fahey, who praised Stennis during a City Hall ceremony for his bravery in helping a critically wounded police officer.
Stennis "helped save the life" of Officer Paul Latschar, Fahey said.
The plaque came from the Omaha Police Department and was presented by Chief Eric Buske, who laid out the story of what Stennis did to help Latschar.
The police baton came from the Omaha Police Union. Chris Circo, vice president of the union, presented that along with high praise:
"They say you can always tell who police officers are. They're the ones running to the gunfire. I think Mr. Stennis has a little police officer in him."
There were hugs and handshakes all around, many of them exchanged between Stennis' and Latschar's families.
Stennis' wife, Connie, and their son, 7-year-old LaDon II, were there to see LaDon Sr. honored. So was Latschar's wife, Tara, and Officer Jerry Swanson, who was with Latschar the night he was shot.
It was the union that gave Stennis a weekend's use of a new Harley-Davidson.
Stennis had been out for an evening on his Kawasaki Vulcan on Aug. 20 when he rode into the shooting scene and quickly went to Latschar's aid.
Latschar had been shot after he and Swanson, members of the Police Department's gang unit, stopped a car whose driver they recognized as Corey T. Allen, a gang member whose driver's license had been revoked. Allen is accused of shooting at the officers.
Shots were still being fired when Stennis spotted Latschar running across Camden Avenue near 42nd Street. In an interview after the shooting, Stennis said he had seen Latschar, probably already wounded, turn and fire several times and then collapse on the curb.
When the gunfire stopped, Stennis said, he positioned his motorcycle between the wounded officer and whoever was shooting at him. He cushioned Latschar's head as they waited for police cruisers and an ambulance.
Latschar was hit in the left arm, lower abdomen and his bulletproof vest. He was released from the hospital Sept. 1. He lost his pulse and blood pressure as he was being taken into surgery at Creighton University Medical Center.
He is not yet back on duty.

Wire Service
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