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'Sincerity above and beyond': How a woman helped save a Cleveland police sergeant during life-threatening emergency

Tomika Johnson and her son, Zaire, will be recognized with a 'Citizen Award' next month after her fast-thinking actions helped save Sgt. Ray O'Connor.

CLEVELAND — “Sincerity above and beyond.”

That’s how the Cleveland Police Department Fourth District is describing a life-saving moment that happened Saturday involving one of their own while attending a back-to-school festival at Friendly Inn.

The situation started when police say Sgt. Ray O’Connor was playing football with children when he told another officer that he had been stung by two bees and is “deathly allergic to them.”

“Within minutes, Sgt. O’Connor fell to the ground and became unconscious, which turned into a life-threatening emergency,” the department said on Facebook.

As two other officers moved him to a car for aid, a woman identified as Tomika Johnson, “quickly sprung into action and ran home to grab her 10-year-old son’s EpiPen.” It was then given to Sgt. O’Connor.

Still unconscious, he was taken to a hospital where doctors said the EpiPen saved his life.

“Ms. Johnson’s quick thinking, fast response and concern for this officer’s well-being demonstrated a high regard for human life,” the department said.

After his recovery, Sgt. O’Connor had the opportunity to meet Johnson to thank her for what she had done. He and his partner, officer Barnes, had also learned that Johnson’s 10-year-old son’s birthday was Monday and “couldn’t think of a better way to say thank you by bringing over birthday gifts and a $100 gift card.”

Johnson and her son, Zaire, will also be recognized with the “Citizen Award” at the City of Cleveland’s Fourth District Awards Ceremony on Oct. 6.


Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated story on Aug. 23, 2022.

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