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Deputy DeFilipps honored by company that made bulletproof vest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Officer is ‘Save 1,912’ for Safariland Group

Photos by Tom Rivers – Deputy James DeFilipps is pictured with his wife Marie and their infant son Jake at the Orleans County Public Safety Building on Tuesday.

ALBION – About two months after he was shot twice while on duty, Deputy James DeFilipps held his son Jake before many in the law enforcement community and his family on Tuesday. Jake will be 1 in a few days.

“I’m very grateful he’s still here,” the deputy’s wife Marie said on Tuesday.

DeFilipps and his family are thankful that a bulletproof vest protected the deputy when he was shot twice at close range on March 21 at about 3 a.m. A bullet to the chest was blocked by the vest and left no bruise. A shot in abdomen was also stopped, but DeFilipps has a deep bruise that gunshot.

He expects he will be able to return to work in early June, working the night shift in eastern Orleans County.

DeFilipps started his career with the Holley Police Department. He has worked the night shift for the Sheriff’s Department for about a decade. Mrs. DeFilipps said her husband is eager to return to work.

“This is what he was born to do,” she said.

The family has received numerous cards from well-wishers, Mrs. DeFilipps said.

When her husband spent a few hours in Strong Memorial Hospital after being shot twice on March 21, police officers visited from the State Police, Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, as well as officers from Orleans County.

A representative from the Safariland Group holds the plaque given to Deputy James DeFilipps on Tuesday.

Friends have dropped off food and many other kind gestures have been extended to the family. DeFilipps and his immediate family all live in Holley. His mother, Marsha, is the Holley historian.

The big community response has been humbling, said Anne Schutz, DeFilipps’s sister.

“It’s really made me believe in Holley again,” Schutz said.

Schutz remembers a few hours after her brother was shot, and asking him if he would return to road patrols.

“He said, ‘Definitely,'” Schutz said.

DeFilipps was shot twice by James Ellis, 44, of Wyoming County. Ellis allegedly pulled a handgun on an ex-girlfriend in Shelby on March 21. Ellis was then chased by police before crashing his vehicle into a telephone pole on Route 31A in Clarendon.

DeFilipps was working the east end of the county and responded to the scene in Clarendon. Police say Ellis open fired on responding officers, including DeFilipps. After DeFilipps was shot twice, he fired at Ellis, killing him.

DeFilipps was only about 10 feet away from Ellis during the shootout.

DePuty James DeFilipps is presented a plaque and other gifts from Stacey Petyak, a manufacturers representative for Safariland Group. Sheriff Scott Hess, left, also received a plaque to be displayed in the department.

A grand jury reviewed the evidence and found DeFilipps was justified in using lethal force.

Representatives from the Safariland Group, manufacturers of the bullet proof vest, presented DeFilipps and Sheriff Scott Hess with plaques noting that DeFIlipps is “Save No. 1,912” for the company. He was wearing an American Body Armor Extreme Series vest when he was shot.

Stacey Petyak, a manufacturers representative for the company, presented the plaques during the ceremony.

“It is not just about us and our armor,” she said. “It is about your heroic actions and your action of valor that you are here today and the other officers.”

The company wanted the Sheriff’s Office to have a plaque as well, noting that DeFilipps survived the gun shots.

“When you look at this you realize what you’re dealing with everyday, the good, the bad and the in between,” she said to a group of law enforcement officers.

DeFilipps also received several gifts – an embroidered hat, travel mug, gear bag and a challenge coin – noting he is “Save No. 1,912.”

Whenever there is a save due to the company’s products, the Safariland Group will shut down production at its three plants to recognize the save and read the story behind the incident with the officer, Petyak said.

She said the “Save Officers” have developed their own network, often reaching out to one another.

“These are officers who took what would be fatal blows,” Petyak said.