RPD officer Denny Wright awarded Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester police officer Denny Wright was awarded the Medal of Valor and the Purple Heart at the Public Safety Building on Thursday.

Wright, a veteran of the Rochester Police Department for more than two decades, was attacked while responding to a call on Peck Street in the city in October 2019. He suffered injuries that left him blind in both eyes.

Three weeks after treatment when he was released from the hospital he was surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones.

“We’re overjoyed to be here to recognize the officers who just taken such heroic actions to enable us to be here today. I worked with Denny in the past before I retired and I know him to have a great attitude,” Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said. “Despite everything he’s gone through, his attitude has been just phenomenal.

“He told me if he could right now, he would go back out in the same shift in the same neighborhood because he was not going to hold against the rest of the community that incident that happened to him. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Several other officers responded to the scene to help after Wright was attacked. Those officers were honored at Thursday’s ceremony as well.

“You should all be commended for the action that you took to save your fellow officer and for what you did on that day and for that the chief is going to reward you all the Excellent Police Service Award.”

The chief also took time to recognize and publicly thank the good Samaritans who were on scene and helped Officer Wright that day as well. Lydell Weatherspoon, Matt Ochs, and Ramique Hill were credited with helping during the Peck Street incident.

“This is a very humbling experience for me. I want to thank Chief Herriott-Sullivan and the entire command staff for setting up this event today,” Officer Wright said.

“In the front of this building, there is a memorial next to the flag pole. It contains the names of officers who have died in the line of duty. Because of these people here, these officers, the civilians and the hospital workers, my name is not on that stone. I struggle with trying to figure out how to thank the people involved. Often times during the course of your life, when people pass away, they talk about ‘I wish we had one more day.’ Well these officers and the civilians who helped and the miracle workers at the hospital have given my family and myself over 650 days and I don’t know how anyone can even begin to thank them.

“If I could get in my car and go take a job right now, I would. I would walk back into the house where this happened to me and see if I get a better result. This is the best job in the world and the people who do this job are exceptional human beings. The community here is also exceptional which is why we can go out there every day and do out best to protect and serve.”

In an interview with News 8 anchor Adam Chodak last year, Wright spoke about the challenges of overcoming the injuries and what’s next for himself and his family.

“I’ve been doing exceptional considering the circumstance that I’m currently in, it’s a big learning curve to all-of-the-sudden-loss of eyesight, but it is a doable situation and I’m moving forward and learning every day,” Wright said during the interview last month.

Wright is a 20-plus year veteran of the force and is well respected for his community outreach, which includes dancing with Rochester City School District students in his wife’s classroom. Wright’s wife, Sonia Lagares-Wright, is an RCSD teacher who won a Golden Apple award in 2017.

Keith Williams, the man charged in the altercation with Wright, was found to be competent to stand trial last year.

He’s charged with attempted aggravated murder and aggravated assault of a police officer.

Full press conference:

Adam Interviews officer Denny Wright


Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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