When friends, family and co-workers describe Alberto DeJesus Muñoz, a member of California State University’s Department of Police Services’ Matador Patrol they use words like friendly, gentleman and good kid.
Last month, the Department of Police Service added “hero” to the list of monikers as the recipient of the Chief’s Award, the highest award given by the department. He was honored at the department’s annual in-service event and saluted by several members of CSUN’s leadership, including President Dianne F. Harrison; Colin Donahue M.A. ’09 (Public Administration), vice president for administration and finance; and William Watkins ’74 (Urban Studies), vice president of student affairs and dean of students for his bravery.
“He is a shining example of and reflection of CSUN and its students,” said Anne P. Glavin, CSUN’s chief of police. “What he did was heroic and selfless.”
Muñoz received the award as a result of his actions during his regular evening shift as a Matador Patrol Community Service Assistant on April 25, 2013.
The 23-year-old urban studies and planning major showed up to work at 7 p.m., as usual, to escort students, faculty and staff around the campus’ dark corridors. It was a job he had held since 2011, uneventful with no issues or problems. The Matador Patrol is comprised of students who provide safety escorts to and from any location on campus from dusk to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Near the end of his shift at about 10 p.m., Muñoz was walking a fellow CSUN student across the street at Zelzah Avenue and Prairie Street. He was gravely injured when a vehicle struck him in the crosswalk after he attempted to push the student he was escorting out of the way of the oncoming car. The student he was escorting was injured but Muñoz received the brunt of the impact, leaving him unconscious with two broken legs and some brain injury. Muñoz said the driver of the car was an elderly man who did not see him or the other student. The accident is still under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic Division.
“I don’t remember much about that night,” Muñoz said. “I was just doing my job.”
Muñoz who returned to school in fall 2013 has made great strides in recovery. He has some memory loss and physical limitations but, with physical therapy, has improved from using a wheelchair to a cane to assist his walking.
“It looks promising that I’ll make a full recovery,” said Muñoz, who has only two classes remaining to graduate. “Everyone has been really supportive and helpful.”
He said his actions that night to help a fellow student was “just part of who I am.”
“I was always raised to believe that if you do good deeds, good things will come to you,” said Muñoz who credits his parents and four older sisters with teaching him the value of being a “gentleman” and “good person.”