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Deputy stabbed prior to deputy-involved shooter honored with Rick Espinoza Award

A Riverside County Sheriff's deputy who was able to subdue a suspect after being stabbed multiple times in Rancho Mirage in August was honored by El Paseo Jewelers with the Rick Espinoza Award.

On August 7, 2020, Corporal Ruben Perez sustained multiple stab wounds to the head and neck while responding to a routine trespassing disturbance on the 70800 block of Tamarisk Lane, a neighborhood just behind the Sunnylands Estates.

According to Sheriff Chad Bianco, Perez was stabbed with a screwdriver.

Following the attack, a deputy-involved shooting ensued. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

"He was able to remove himself from the attack long enough to draw his gun stopping the attack and killing the suspect," Bianco wrote back in August.

Perez was rushed to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. He was able to recover from his injuries and significant blood loss in 60 days and is now back out on patrol.

"The reason I was able to respond the way I did was because of the training that the Sheriff's Department goes through. As you've seen before with a lot of law enforcement, we're under a lot of pressure from today's society because of the things that we're getting feedback on. However, we don't stop training. We don't stop doing the things that we're supposed to do and we take care of the community regardless of the response that we get back," Perez said.

Friday evening, the Mehta family, owners of El Paseo Jewelers, presented Perez with the Rick Espinoza Award and a diamond ring in a private ceremony with friends, family, colleagues, fellow residents, and Sergeant Rick Espinoza himself.

News Channel 3's morning meteorologist Patrick Evans MC'd the event.

Click here if you would like to watch the full ceremony

This is the 12-year that El Paseo Jewelers has presented the Rick Espinoza Award to a deserving officer.

Each year, the Mehta family, owners of the fine jewelry store located on El Paseo for the past 27 years, honors an officer who has gone above and beyond in the line of duty for their dedication, service, and contribution to reducing crime.

The award was named for Sergeant Rick Espinoza, who was shot while pursuing a drug dealer in Desert Hot Springs in 2008.

Espinoza was one of the police officers that responded to a robbery that occurred at El Paseo Jewelers in 2006.

"Sergeant Espinoza always checked in on us, even after he was reassigned," remembers owner Raju Mehta. "He was family."

The news of Espinoza being shot came as a shock to El Paseo Jewelers and his willingness to return to service floored them.

"Seeing this kind of dedication, El Paseo Jewelers started the award in Sergeant Espinoza's honor in order to recognize the exemplary work that he and the Palm Desert/Riverside County Sheriff's Department does for the Coachella Valley and the community," reads a notice by El Paseo Jewelers staff.

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Jesus Reyes


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