James DeFilipps named NY Deputy of the Year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2016 at 12:00 am

File 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 May 19 during a recognition program.

ALBANY – An Orleans County deputy sheriff was named “Deputy of the Year” by the New York State Sheriff’s Association in Albany today.

Jim DeFilipps, an Orleans County deputy sheriff, was recognized for performing an act of valor and heroism, above the normal call of duty, the Sheriff’s Association said.

It was 3 a.m. on March 21 when DeFilipps was shot twice following a high-speed chase with James Ellis of Wyoming County.

DeFilipps was the first police officer on scene when Ellis wrecked his vehicle in Clarendon on Route 31A. Police were pursuing Ellis after a 911 call when he threatened an ex-girlfriend in Shelby with a gun.

After the crash in Clarendon, Ellis fled to a nearby wooded area and opened fire on DeFilipps and other deputies and police to arrive on the scene. DeFilipps, despite getting hit twice by gunfire, shot Ellis, killing him and ending his threat.

Police feared Ellis could have shot more officers on the scene if DeFilipps hadn’t been there. Ellis could have fled to a neighbor’s house.

DeFilipps as wearing a bullet-proof vest which likely saved his life. After recovering from his wound to his stomach, he returned to the night shift for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, where he has worked nearly 13 years.

Deputy James DeFilipps is pictured with deputies Brian Larkin, left, and Kevin Colonna, who also responded to the March 21 incident with James Ellis. The deputies and other first responders were recognized during an April 22 County Legislature meeting.

DeFilipps, a Holley resident, did not attend the ceremony in Albany today because he and his wife just had a newborn baby.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower said DeFilipps will receive the award in the spring during a ceremony at the Orleans County Courthouse.

“It is absolutely a proud day for the Sheriff’s Department,” Bower said after the announcement this afternoon.

DeFilipps described the incident on March 21 in a previous extended interview with the Orleans Hub. Click here to read it.

The Sheriff’s Association named two deputies for the top award. Joe Tortorella, a Niagara County deputy, was the other winner.

Tortorella responded to a 911 hang-up call at a residence in Wheatfield on April 17. While investigating the 911 call, Tortorella was confronted by an armed man who had just shot both his parents. During a lengthy shootout with the suspect, Tortorella was struck by a bullet in the chest.

The residence in Wheatfield was located next to an elementary school that was in session at the time of the incident. During the gun fight, Tortorella called dispatch over his radio to alert the school to lock-down. The suspect was shot three times, and ran back behind the house. Tortorella ran towards the school to place himself between the school and the suspect.