As Everett Police Sgt. Larry Jedry sat on the floor of the House chambers at the State House last Friday for the Hanna Awards for Bravery, he thought about the incident that got him there.
It was an incident one quiet October night in 2017 that required him to shoot a man that charged him with two menacing, long knives. It was a situation that he said was about him “choosing to go home,” and one that affected him deeply afterward.
And as the events were recounted by Gov. Charlie Baker last Friday, Jedry said he thought that, despite the award, he would have preferred the night never had happened.
“When the chief put me in for it, I wasn’t sure how I felt,” he said on Monday. “I didn’t feel like a hero. I still don’t know how to feel about it. When I got the award, I was overwhelmed and very humbled. In 2017, somewhere in Massachusetts there had to be another scenario that was more significant than mine. As far as I know the guy is still alive. I wish it didn’t happen, but it did and it took a toll on me, but I didn’t know if it rose to the level of this award. I can just say I’m humbled.”
Jedry was nominated by Chief Steve Mazzie, who said the officer deserved the award for showing bravery in the midst of a fight for his life – and in the protection of Everett residents and other police officers.
The situation unfolded around 11 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
It had been a busy night, but Jedry – a sergeant who supervises the street shifts – said it had grown quiet. He was parked by the Parlin Library when an old high school friend pulled up and motioned to a man by the bus stop who was talking frantically on the phone.
“That guy just said he was going to kill me,” the friend said a few times.
Jedry took in the information and began watching the man at the bus stop.
However, he wasn’t doing anything particularly wrong. A few minutes later he got a report from dispatch that a man had reported killing two people in the Rite Aid and was still in the area. Knowing Rite Aid was closed, and no one was inside, Jedry said he knew that wasn’t the case.
However, he said it was time to check out the man.
As he drove across the street to the man, he asked him if he was on the phone with the police.
The next 10 seconds would forever define the 20-year veteran officer’s life, and would be the incident that would make him a Hanna Award winner for bravery – but also would challenge him to the core as a person.
Seconds after he asked the question, the man dropped the phone and revealed two very significant knives. Then he quickly marched the 20 feet to Jedry, saying he was going to (expletive deleted) kill him.
“I gave him four or five orders to drop the knives,” he said. “He got to seven feet from me and never stopped coming. I fired two rounds at him and it stopped the threat. At that point, he went down. I radioed for help and his eyes were rolling back. I told him to breath and listen to me and that I was going to help him.
“We train for these things and I’m thankful for the training I’ve received,” he continued. “At the time, when I knew there was no alternative and it would be a fight for my life, my training kicked in. I tried to get him to stop every other way I could by moving backward and laterally and yelling to get his attention. At that point, I knew there was no other way, and it was quick. They talk about tunnel vision and all I remember was his eyes opened so wide.”
The entire encounter from his first words with the man to the shots being fired transpired in about 10 seconds, said Jedry, and his colleagues said he acted with bravery.
He doesn’t deny that now, but it was what happened afterward that challenges Jedry.
“It’s the after effects you don’t know about,” he said. “We’re all human. We don’t want to have to shoot someone or potentially take a life…I thought about it a lot.”
Jedry said he took the mandatory counseling and took some time from work to digest the situation, to work through it and to be able to do the job he loves again without repressing anything. He went to special retreats for officers and combat veterans who had experienced trauma, and he went from a point of not being able to talk about the incident to being able to accept an award for it.
He said he took the job as a police officer because, growing up in the Village, he encountered officers like “Brooksy” (Officer Brooks) who were the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. They were more like parents than police officers. That sense of helping people and being fair attracted him to the job.
At the age of 31, he landed on the Everett Police force after trying for 11 years. He was quickly promoted and has served with distinction for quite some time.
“This is by far the best job I’ve ever had,” he said. “I love this job. Not every day is perfect. It’s frustrating or very busy or too quiet or a call can happen that is truly sad. It gets you. But if I had to go back and do it over again, I would do this job again. I try to be an empathetic and helpful as I can be.”
In the end, Jedry’s award is as much about his bravery in the months after the incident, in unraveling how he felt about what had happened, as it was for his bravery in the few seconds that transpired during the incident. It was about a decorated cop, who has made a career out of being empathetic and helping people in Everett, deal with the long road back to being able to serve without the horrors of reliving such an unforgettable thing as having to shoot another person in order to carry out his job.
“I have empathy for people,” he said. “I feel for that guy because he may have been intoxicated or may have had some psychotic issues that may have been pushing him to do what he was doing when he made that decision. If I could change the outcome, I would. I did everything I could to get him to stop and talk to me. Talking about this was critically important for me. I don’t want to be a casualty of my career. I know what it entails, but I don’t want to have leftover issues when I retire – health issues related to stress. I have a long life to live.”
Officially, Jedry received the George L. Hanna Medal of Valor – the second highest award for bravery in the state. He and eight other officers from across the state received those awards for actions taken in 2017.
Jedry is the fourth Everett officer in the last 10 years to receive a Hanna Award.