Richarson Myrthil usually drives his 16-year-old brother to Caloosa Park to play basketball and then leaves to practice his own game elsewhere.
But on Nov. 19, the 25-year-old came back to play just before a drug deal became violent. Instead of playing basketball, Myrthil tried to save the life of a man who had just been shot in the back.
A crowd of about 50 dispersed into the woods but Myrthil stayed. He searched for his brother, and found him, and also spotted the victim — Desean Menelas.
Menelas grabbed onto Myrthil’s leg.
“I need help I got shot,” Myrthil said 20-year-old Menelas begged. “I told him I’d help him. He said ‘promise me you’ll help me.’ So that’s what I did.”
Myrthil cradled him in his arms, used a shirt to put pressure on the wound and drove to a hospital. On the way there, he flagged down officers. He also gave information that led to an arrest in the shooting.
On Tuesday, the Boynton Beach Police Department honored Myrthil for his bravery and life-saving efforts. They gave him the Citizen Appreciation Award and offered encouragement at the department’s quarterly awards.
“We are told that you have aspirations of becoming a police officer … our profession certainly needs more individuals like you,” said Capt. Matthew Zeller.
The department awarded officers and dispatchers in a ceremony that offered only a “glimpse” of everyone’s hard work, Zeller said. Tuesday’s was the department’s first awards ceremony under the leadership of Interim Chief Kelly Harris. She replaced Jeffrey Katz who retired in December. Harris welcomed two new officers: Carlos Borrero and Jessi Festa.
Detective Marco Villari, who has been with the department for about eight years, received the Civility Accountability and Pride award — the department’s highest honor. The married father of three young girls works in the Major Case Squad and is a member of the SWAT team. His investigations include homicides, robberies, sexual battery, animal cruelty and human trafficking cases.
Villari said he felt bad being the sole recipient because it takes several officers to make a successful case. Still, he said he was honored and said his family is pleased.
“It’s been a lot on them that I’m always gone. They’re definitely happy I’m getting awarded for all the time I’m not home,” he said.
Additional awards included:
- Civilian of the Quarter: Anthony Petriello for his work with the red light cameras and license plate readers programs, planning large police and SWAT operations and in traffic crash investigations. Petriello investigates traffic crashes to free up police officers on the road so they can respond to more serious calls. He also volunteers his time to help officers in saturation patrols, community events and training new officers.
- Detective of the Quarter: Rocky Zavattaro quickly identified suspects and apprehended them in several high-profile cases. Those, according to police, include a man who had a large quantity of stolen jewelry; a burglary and grand theft suspect; a person suspected of robbing a man of his iPhone at gunpoint during a LetGo transaction; and a person who allegedly shot a man in the lower back during a drug deal that turned into a robbery.
- Officer of the Quarter: Michael Autiello, a member of the SWAT team, “has distinguished himself as a reliable and trusted leader, who is focused on providing exceptional service to the community,” according to police. He conducted several traffic stops that resulted in the recovery of two stolen vehicles, the seizure of cocaine, marijuana and five firearms. He also located a vehicle wanted by West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach police for involvement in an armed carjacking.