This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When Salt Lake City police officer Ben Hone ran into a duplex last year where a woman was being stabbed and ordered the attacker to drop his knife, the man quietly responded he was going to "stick her and kill her."
The little bit of light filtering into the room allowed Hone to see Robert Richard Berger who was sitting on the floor with his arms and legs wrapped around Breann Lasley shift slightly and expose his head, according to investigators. The officer took his shot, killing Berger and saving the lives of Lasley and her sister, who also lived in the home.
Hone said he was not a hero, just an officer doing his job. But the National Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Police Hall of Fame disagreed with the not-a-hero part.
On Monday, Hone was honored as the 2015 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, the organizations' highest accolade for a living officer. His plaque will hang at the American Police Hall of Fame Museum in Titusville, Florida.
Jack Rinchich, president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police/American Police Hall of Fame, presented Hone a 10-year veteran with the Salt Lake City department with a replica of the plaque at a ceremony at the Salt Lake City Police Department.
"I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, God had you at the right place at the right time," said Rinchich, a retired police chief and police chaplain.
Lasley, who attended the ceremony, agreed.
A stranger holding a knife at her throat had just whispered in her ear that he was going to kill her, she said, and a stranger willing to risk his life to save her showed up.
"I was literally in the hands of evil," Lasley said. "Then I heard 'Salt Lake City Police Department.' As soon as I heard that, I knew I was safe."
The shooting was later ruled legally justified by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
At a news conference last October, Unified Police Department investigators and Gill gave this account of the events leading up to the Sept. 23 shooting near 800 South and Roberta Street:
Not long before the shooting, the 48-year-old Berger, a parolee who had a long criminal history, attempted to break into a 2-year-old's bedroom at an apartment two doors away from the duplex in a burglary attempt. The parents chased him away and called 911.
Lasley, 28, was in her bedroom at the duplex when Berger put a chair next to her window and climbed into the room. He hit Lasley several times and demanded her car keys.
Younger sister Kayli Lasley ran upstairs when she heard screaming and was kicked back downstairs by Berger. Breann Lasley, who was fighting with Berger, told her sister to call police.
The fight in the bedroom moved into the kitchen, then Berger pushed Breann Lasley down the stairs and into the duplex basement. The struggle continued and Hone, who had arrived in the neighborhood to investigate the break-in at the nearby apartment, heard screaming from the duplex.
The officer ran to that residence, where he found Lasley stabbed in the abdomen and being held by Berger. When Berger raised the knife again, causing his body to shift and his head to move slightly to the right, Hone fired
Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown said at Monday's ceremony that Hone's courage "without a doubt" saved lives.
"We are honored to have you among our ranks," Brown said.