MANKATO — Jeff Kamm can’t decide if he was more surprised by what he saw out his office windows in November or by the city award he received for what he did next.
Kamm was at work at Southern Minnesota Construction on Third Avenue Nov. 1 when a man ran by with a Mankato police officer in pursuit.
Kamm watched from a doorway as the officer struggled with the suspect. He said he saw the officer deploy a stun gun. But the suspect continued to fight.
From the doorway Kamm asked the officer if he wanted help. When the officer responded affirmatively, Kamm ran outside and grabbed the suspect’s legs while the officer handcuffed the man.
“Without the help of Mr. Kamm, the officer could have been severely injured and/or the male may have caused further harm to himself or others,” says a city of Mankato document announcing Kamm as the latest recipient of the city’s Award of Valor.
The city periodically recognizes citizens who step up to assist an officer or a fellow citizen during an emergency.
“I was very surprised when I got the call a few weeks ago. I didn’t know they had anything like this,” said Kamm, an Eagle Lake resident.
When he came to officer Jesse Gilbertson’s aid, Kamm did not know that Anthony Marcus Downs, 34, reportedly was a methamphetamine user who was having a mental health crisis. Downs fled a medical office after causing a disturbance and punching a hole in a door, according to a court complaint that charged Downs with five crimes.
Downs punched Gilbertson in the ear during the struggle, the complaint says.
Before jumping into the disturbance, Kamm paused to assess the scene and ask the officer if he needed help. He said he didn’t want to make the situation even worse by intervening when it was not safe to do so or when the officer did not need him.
Kamm said he’d never hesitate to help an officer in need once given the go-ahead.
“I have appreciated what they do for a long time,” the transportation manager said.
The feeling was mutual at Monday night’s City Council meeting. After Kamm was presented with the award, was warmly applauded by the audience, city staff and Public Safety Director Amy Vokal, Gilbertson asked if he could say a few words.
“It’s no small feat to come to the aid of someone else who needs help,” Gilbertson said to Kamm. “... For Mr. Kamm to help me when I needed help, it was greatly appreciated.”