It was midnight, December 19, when three officers rushed to a fire in Lincoln Park. They arrived before firefighters were on the scene.
A woman hysterically told officers Michael Sampson and Sean Nicklas there was a man trapped inside.
“At that point, we weren't sure if the home was still on fire,” said Officer Nicklas "There was a lot of smoke. It was hard to see, but we knew once we made it to the bottom of the stairs there was a man unconscious on the ground. So our first priority was getting him out to safety.”
And they did. The men helped the victim regain his breathing and he came to. The officers were then told someone else was inside.
Officer Ryan Behrik stayed with the victim while Officers Samson and Nicklas, who are not trained firefighters and had no protection against the smoke and flames, made one more brave move without hesitation.
“We went in, checked,” said Officer Samson. “We didn’t see very much, but we believed there was nobody else left. We immediately made exit from the location again.”
In the wake of several national cases showing police officers in a negative light, the officers told 7 Action News they want the community to know that they are here to serve in protect them, but they humbly don’t think of themselves as heroes.
“I don’t think anyone in our department would have done anything different,” said Officer Samson. “It’s our job. We really don’t deserve the credit that we are receiving. It’s selfless service. It’s part of being a police officer.”
“The situation worked out well for everybody involved,” said Officer Behrik. “But I don’t think this is any different than what law enforcement officers do across the country, every day.”
The victim, in his mid 40s, has since made a full recovery.