Landscaper-turned-cop honored for robbery bust

by: Diana Davis Updated:

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ATLANTA —

A rookie Atlanta cop is being called a hero after breaking up an armed robbery.

The robbery happened Monday night in southwest Atlanta. On Friday, the Atlanta Police Department honored Officer Kevin Stroner.

Stroner was just two blocks away when the armed robbery call came in at a Dollar Store on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Just five months out of the police academy, Stroner jumped out of his cruiser and ran toward the doors as everyone else was running out.

 “I hear people on both sides of me saying, ‘He’s robbing the store. He’s robbing the store,’” Stroner told Channel 2’s Diana Davis.
         
He had gotten the suspect’s description seconds before. He told Davis he kept running the description over and over again in his head as he ran toward the store, “‘Tall, black guy wearing black, tall black guy wearing black,’ I keep repeating that in my head.”

The suspect, Joshua Hammond, is a convicted felon from Florida. Stroner said he had his gun drawn when he spotted Hammond near the front door.

“He sees me coming in, running full-on, and he just gets the biggest panicked look on his face, like that. He just goes, ‘Oh,’ and turns around and runs back into the store,” he said. “In one second, he went from you know a big tough stud to ‘Oh God, the police are here.’”
         
Stroner said he confronted the man and told him to get down.

“I’ve got him at gunpoint, I’m screaming at him, 'Get on the ground. Get on the ground,'” Stroner said.

Hammond, now behind bars, is charged with several felonies. He just got off probation two weeks ago.

Stroner told Davis the whole incident feels surreal.

“These past couple of days, I'm like, ‘Did that really happen? Did I dream it?’" he said.

Policing is Stroner’s second career. He became an officer when the economy took a toll on his landscaping business. Now, he’s received his first silver star. He told Davis he got what he signed up for.

Police recovered all the money from the robbery, about $700.

The Atlanta Police Department said Officer Stroner's actions are a "shining example of the nobility of police work and that he demonstrated a selfless devotion to duty."