DETROIT (WXYZ) — Thursday evening, Detroit Police Department officers and first responders gathered at the 10th Above and Beyond Award Ceremony at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center.
The annual event is a chance to pay special tribute to officers and first responders in Detroit that are heroes, going above and beyond for the city.
The evening started with a powerful bagpipe processions. In line behind the processions were the first responders and officers being honored.
One police officer was missing: Detroit police officer Loren Courts.
His past partner on the force, Detroit police officer Amanda Hudgens, told 7 Action News, "He’s more than just a cop — he’s a great person. He treated everybody with respect, even if they didn’t treat him with respect."
Hudgens was Courts' partner on the force and friend in day-to-day life for three years.
The two of them were ambushed on July 6 by a 19-year-old who Detroit police believe wanted to die in a suicide by a cop.
"I always have dreams of the incident. There has not been a night that I haven’t," Hudgens said.
The 19-year-old fired a shot at Courts that night that killed him. Hudgens ran to his side using her own body to shield him.
"He gave his life for the city of Detroit, he gave his life for the citizens of Detroit — sorry, it’s hard," Hudgens said.
Thursday night, Courts' ultimate sacrifice was honored with a posthumous Purple Heart award given to Courts' family, and a standing ovation from hundreds of fellow officers and first responders.
"I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of overwhelming," said Larry Courts Jr., Loren Courts' brother. "It's definitely something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life."
On a night to remember, Hudgens was also honored with a Medal of Valor for her actions to try and save Courts.
Officers Eric Campbell, Brandon Balazsi, Brett Michael Murphy and Dylan Kennedy were also honored with the Medal of Valor for their efforts that night arriving on scene and engaging the shooter.
Those actions ultimately saved Hudgens' life.
Thursday was a night for the city of Detroit's heroes.
They're heroes who often times avoid the spotlight but tonight, it was most deserving.
"I’ve learned to cope with it. Coming to these events is more of me supporting his family," Hudgens said. "And just being there for him. I always said I’d be there for him — I still am."
Larry Courts Jr. said, "He’s definitely smiling though, for sure."