Illinois Chiefs honor heroic Bensenville officers with Police Medal of Valor

Pictured on April 29, 2022: Bensenville police Sgt. Michael Ptak, Detective Kristian Casillas, Officer Steven Kotlewski, Officer Patrick Scanlan and ILACP Immediate Past President Mitchell R. Davis III (Hazel Crest). 

May 10, 2022

During its annual awards banquet on April 29, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police presented the Police Medal of Valor to Bensenville Police Officer Steven Kotlewski, Sergeant Michael Ptak, Detective Kristian Casillas and Officer Patrick Scanlan for their heroic actions performed with significant bravery and courage in the face of imminent risk or death.  

The incident for which they were recognized occurred just after midnight on Nov. 6, 2021, when the Bensenville Police Department was notified of a domestic disturbance between mother and son.    

Arriving on the scene first, Officer Kotlewski was invited into occupant’s apartment and attempted to speak with all parties to deescalate the situation. Without warning, the son pulled a handgun from behind his back and ultimately emptied the ten-round magazine into Officer Kotlewski. The rounds broke both of his legs.  

As Kotlewski attempted to leave, the offender followed him out the door and fired into his back. His vest stopped one of the rounds, but at least one made it under his vest and entered his back. The rounds that entered his leg severed his femoral artery and he was bleeding profusely.   

Officer Scanlan came on the scene and immediately began life-saving measures by applying a tourniquet to each leg, knowing the armed offender was in close proximity and remained a threat. Medics would not bring an ambulance into the area until the scene was secured, so Ptak brought a squad car onto the lawn, and the officers moved Kotlewski to the back seat to transport him to a safe location to meet the medics.  

With the other officers working to save Kotlewski, Officer Kristian Casillas remained at the scene to locate the offender. He was able to get the suspect to the ground at gunpoint, with an officer from Elmhurst arriving and assisting in handcuffing and taking him into custody.  

“Every day, our officers put their lives on the line to protect their communities, walking into situations that may or may not erupt into life altering scenarios. These officers displayed exemplary and heroic actions that day and will forever be remembered for their courage,” said Ed Wojcicki, ILACP Executive Director. 

After undergoing five surgeries and countless hours of therapy, Officer Kotlewski returned home just six weeks after the incident, receiving a warm welcome from friends, family and the Bensenville community. He continues to work at physical therapy to overcome the injuries he sustained.  

“It’s troubling to have one of our own become victim to an act of senseless violence, however, despite such tragedy, our department has been inspired and continues to be inspired by the outpouring support from the community and above all, by the composure and selflessness from the officers that responded to the call that day,” Bensenville Police Chief Dan Schulze said. “We’re honored to see these officers receive such a commendable award.” 

The officers were honored at ILACP’s annual banquet in Northbrook, with a portion of the proceeds from the event was dedicated to the 100 Club of Illinois in support of the families that have lost loved ones in the line of duty.  

About Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police  

Since 1941, ILACP has served as the professional development association for Chiefs of Police and other community leaders committed to public safety in Illinois. The statewide organization serves 1200 members working in more than 450 agencies, providing them with innovative services, training, and partnerships. ILACP advocates for legislation and policies that protect and improve police forces and the communities they serve.