BRADENTON -- A Palmetto police officer was named Officer of the Year on Thursday evening at the Manatee County Hundred Club Banquet.
Lucianno Diaz, 32, of Palmetto, walked onto a stage inside Renaissance on 9th before a crowd of more than 100 of Manatee County's top law enforcement officials and their loved ones.
"I'm super proud. I'm excited," Diaz said. "I'm definitely in complete surprise. I mean, I knew I was a nominee but definitely didn't think I was going to win."
In late February 2014, Diaz responded to a fight inside a Palmetto nightclub where a woman's brachial artery -- the major blood vessel of the upper arm -- was lacerated.
"She started to bleed out and I was just able to stop the bleeding," Diaz said.
Diaz said his main focus was to do everything needed to protect the victim and secure the crime scene. He called it "work mode."
"There wasn't nervousness or anything like that," he said. "Just trying to do what we could do at that time."
Diaz was selected from a group
of nominations spanning multiple law enforcement agencies. Other nominees:
Bradenton police officer Matthew Palmer;
Bradenton Beach police officer Michael Bazell;
Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission Lt. Tom Ware;
Florida Highway Patrol trooper Brett Fitzpatrick;
Holmes Beach police officer Steve Ogline;
Homeland Security Investigation special agent Raymond Covert; and
Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies Dan Durrance and Christopher Folds.
"These officers are being honored this evening for going well beyond the call of duty within their respective departments," said Robert Ricciardo, president of the Manatee County Hundred Club. "We have everything from a smuggling operation involving stolen dinosaur bones to a heroic live-saving of a woman from a burning vehicle. Also, the arrest of an attempted murder suspect with the rescue of a victim. And how about the officer that chased down a suspect who had just shot into an occupied house?"
The event included an invocation, briefing of law enforcement deaths in 2014 and introduction of honored guests, including Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer, Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler and Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski.
Radzilowski, who announced his retirement in late April, was also recognized for the work he's done for Bradenton.
Bazell, nominated for stopping a teenage boy who stole a truck in March 2014, said he was ecstatic.
"I was shocked that I got it and I'm very happy," the 50-year-old Bradenton Beach resident said. "I didn't expect anything. This was amazing."
After the banquet, Diaz's fiancée, Rosanna Lozoya, was all smiles. She said she was proud of him.
"It's scary," she said of his career in law enforcement, "but it's a passion that he's always had and he loves it."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.