Everett Tedder was 28, a young father of two, and had only been with the Mountain View Police Department for two and a half months, when he was shot in the line of duty.
Tedder lost the full use of his leg that day, along with his ability to continue serving as a police officer. He was the first Mountain View officer ever to be shot on while on duty and the first to leave the force on disability.
More than 40 years later, on July 30, the Police Department retroactively gave Tedder the rare honor of a Purple Cross for his bravery and commitment. The award can be granted to any officer who is injured, usually by a weapon, in the line of duty at no fault of his or her own, police spokesperson Liz Wylie said.
The honor did not exist in Mountain View when Tedder was shot in 1967, and it has only been presented to one other Mountain View officer. Other retirees recently asked the department to honor Tedder for his sacrifices.
To present the award, police tricked Tedder, who now lives in Redding, into returning to Mountain View for a swearing-in ceremony of new officers. Dozens of officers gave him a standing ovation as he made his way up to the podium.
Tedder later told the Voice he was shocked when he found out the real reason for his return. "I never expected that, never thought about it all these years."
'Bang, bang and I went down'
On Sunday, Jan. 22, 1967, two police officers responded to a domestic disturbance call on Escuela Avenue at the apartment of 35-year-old David Ralph Peterson. According to the San Jose Mercury News and the Mountain View Register, the local newspaper at the time, Peterson had a record for carrying a concealed weapon, and was known in Mountain View by gun dealers and the police for the arsenal he kept.
Then-police Chief Arthur Nielsen said Peterson "had illusions of Russians invading the country and was arming himself against the invasion." He "resented" Jews, African-Americans and the police, the chief said.
According to reports recounted by Wylie, when the officers arrived, Peterson opened the door and punched one of them in the face, immediately slamming the door. The two officers heard the sound of a shotgun being loaded, and returned to their patrol car to call for backup. Peterson, meanwhile, snuck out the back window.
"We only had radios in the cars then," recalled former City Council member Nick Galiotto, who at that time, as Lt. Galiotto, was one of the cops called to the scene along with Tedder.
Police officers set up a wide perimeter, and Tedder was watching the rear of the parking lot at Escuela and El Camino Real, located next to a then-wooded area and the former Linda's Drive-In. Peterson approached Tedder from behind, disarmed him and held a shotgun to his head.
What happened next remains unclear. Tedder has limited memory of the event, and the local papers, Galiotto and police historian Doug Johnson all have slightly different stories.
"I remember being taken hostage," Tedder told the Voice. "I remember him saying, 'You shot me.' As soon as I said, 'But you have my gun,' I was hit. It was bang, bang and I went down. I remember trying to dig a hole to hide in."
After Peterson took Tedder hostage, he became "irate, and started screaming he had an officer," and wanted other police to retreat, Galiotto said.
Galiotto ordered police to pull back.
At this point, Peterson "inexplicably" shot Tedder in the thigh, leg and hand, Galiotto said.
An officer hiding in a nearby gazebo then shot Peterson, killing him, Galiotto said.
It was the first time a Mountain View police officer killed a suspect, Wylie noted.
Tedder was rushed to El Camino Hospital. While doctors there were able to save his life, they could not repair Tedder's leg.
Unable to continue working as an officer in the field, Tedder returned to the department for a couple months and worked as a dispatcher before leaving the force. In 1977, after 22 years in Mountain View, he moved to Redding with his wife and kids.
Still bears the scars
Tedder returned to Mountain View last month for what he thought was a reunion with some officers who served on the force with him. Friends said he would not have returned otherwise.
When Tedder was called up for his award, and the assembled officers stood up in his honor, the former police officer started crying, Wylie said.
"He worked for three months; who knows what his career could have amounted to," said police historian Johnson. "He limped up to the podium to receive the award. Here is a guy who bears the scars of something everyone in the room has thought of."
"This is an honorable recognition of his sacrifice to the community," Galiotto told the Voice. "If we had that type of award at the time, he would have received it. It was well-deserved."