• Slain Orlando police officer awarded posthumous purple heart, award of valor

    By: Steve Barrett


    ORLANDO, Fla. - It has been nearly a year since Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton was gunned down outside a Pine Hills-area Walmart while confronting a murder suspect.

    On Wednesday, her husband, Seth Clayton, accepted a posthumous purple heart and award of valor for his wife’s sacrifice.

    “We never forget our heroes, and they are to be cherished and remembered for years to come,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a ceremony Wednesday.

    Photos: Procession for Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton

    Cpl. Robert Schellhor, Master Police Officer Branden Thorton and Officer Jeremy Sisk were also honored during the ceremony for their efforts to save Clayton’s life.

    “It’s nice to see the community doesn’t forget Lieutenant Clayton,” Thornton said. “You’d be surprised how many times I’m on calls and people come to me and say it’s really sad that she’s gone.”

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    Thorton said he still wonders if there was more he could have done to help Clayton the day she died.

    “Had I gotten there 10 seconds faster when she initially called it? Is there something I could have done, something more, to save her or possibly stopped (the shooter) from doing that he did faster?” Thorton said.

    Clayton’s impact on the community has, and will, continue far into the future, Thorton said.

    “She was a remarkable person,” he said. “There’s not anybody in the community who hadn’t met her one time and wasn’t changed by her.”

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