Auburn, CA – The Best Buy loss prevention employee who was fired after he tackled a fleeing suspect in the store parking lot in January has been awarded a Citizen’s Medal of Merit by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO).
The agency bestowed the award upon 26-year-old Tyler Metildi, during a ceremony on Monday, according to the department’s Facebook post.
Instead of becoming another bystander, Metildi “chose to act,” Placer County Sheriff Devon Bell said during the ceremony, according to the Press Tribune.
“He did this because frankly, he thought it was the right thing to do,” Sheriff Bell said. “He put his job and his safety on the line to help law enforcement.”
“Critical incidents happen and people are all too eager to grab their cell phones,” he continued. “How refreshing it is when we have someone willing to take action.”
Metildi said he felt honored to receive the award, but that he is ready for life to return to normal.
“I really don’t like all the attention,” he told the Press Tribune. “This was something I did that night and I’d do it again. I’m very honored to receive this medal.”
Best Buy ultimately offered Metildi his job back, noting that they “had reason to take another look at what happened,” the company told FOX News.
It’s not clear if their “reason” is nationwide backlash since the story broke, or if they actually took the time to investigate afterwards.
But Metildi turned down Best Buy’s offer to come back to work, and is instead pursuing a career with the PCSO, the Placer County Deputy Sheriff’s Association (PCDSA) said in a Facebook post on Monday.
The eight-year U.S. Army veteran served in Afghanistan in 2014, and “still lives his military virtues” the PCDSA noted.
“He is currently in the testing process with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office for the Deputy Sheriff Trainee position,” the post read. “Wish this soldier and hero luck!”
The incident occurred on Jan. 11, after Placer County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) detectives tracked 35-year-old fugitive Timothy Trujillo to the Best Buy store in Roseville, KXTV reported.
Metildi said he noticed a group of undercover sheriff’s deputies as they converged on the suspect out in the parking lot, according to KTXL.
But the fugitive then went on the fight, punching one of the deputies and knocking him to the ground.
“When they confronted him, the man punched one of the detectives and tried to run off,” PCSO Lieutenant Andrew Scott explained. “That’s when the security guard tackled the man, preventing him from escaping.”
Security footage showed Trujillo as he raced through the packed parking lot.
“He started running past me and I thought I was doing the right thing by stopping him,” Metildi told KTXL.
As Trujillo ran past the front of the building, Metildi suddenly darted into the frame, and quickly closed the gap between him and the fleeing suspect, the video showed.
The loss prevention employee and Trujillo both sailed through the air as Metildi slammed into him, landing hard on the asphalt several feet later.
As soon as Trujillo hit the ground, Metildi jumped to his feet and backed away, and the deputies moved in to take the suspect into custody.
Trujillo was wanted out of Nevada at the time of his arrest, KXTV reported.
Detectives located stolen property, burglary tools, and methamphetamine in his vehicle, and were also able to connect him with multiple local burglaries.
He has been charged with burglary, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine, and assaulting and resisting a peace officer.
Metildi said he knew there would be consequences for his decision to intervene, but that he didn’t hesitate to do what he felt was right, KTXL reported.
“I understood that when I went back in there I was going to get into some type of trouble because Best Buy policy says we aren’t supposed to touch anybody,” he told the news outlet. “[But it] seemed like it was the right thing… Someone [was] running from the cops – seemed like the logical thing to do.”
Best Buy fired him on Jan. 25, he told KXTV.
“My manager called me in and said corporate decided to let me go because I used excessive force and it was against Best Buy’s policy to intervene,” he said, according to KTXL.
“Our policy is clear, employees are not to chase potential criminals outside of the store,” Best Buy initially told KTXL in a statement. “Chasing an individual in the parking lot creates a safety risk that isn’t worth taking, regardless of how noble an employee’s intention is.”
But the company has since reconsidered its position, and ultimately decided they would like to have Metildi back.
“In the end, we understand he made a split-second decision to do what he thought was right and, while we wish he hadn’t put himself at risk, we regret our initial decision and will be offering him his job back,” Best Buy said, according to FOX News.
Metildi will take his physical and written tests for the PCSO deputy position on Feb. 25, he told KXTV.
“If I get accepted, I’ll be in their academy in July,” he added.