CHICAGO — A Chicago police officer who died shortly after saving a man’s life was recognized Tuesday for his bravery and courage.
Officer Israel Martinez only served on the police force for five years, but he saved the lives of four people in that short time. On Tuesday, Martinez was posthumously honored for what his fellow officers called his “heroic” efforts.
“Last month, he went above and beyond when he successfully applied his Chicago Police Department LEMART training to help a juvenile who had sustained puncture wounds,” recalled Commander Jill Stevens of CPD Near North District.
To his fellow cops, Martinez always seemed like a hero – someone sent to watch over the city.
“He saved so many lives, and he had so many more [people to help], but his time has come,” said Martinez’s sister, Estefania.
Last February, Martinez was credited with saving the life of a 15-year-old boy who had been stabbed.
“I applied a chest seal and conducted a sweep of the body to make sure no one else was bleeding,” Officer Israel ‘Izzy’ Martinez said a CPD presser last month.
Photos of Martinez often showed him with his vest on – and the first aid kit front and center, a symbol perhaps that he was not only willing to absorb the city’s pain but also relieve it.
“He actually purchased lots of medical stuff in order to help and save and help many, more people,” Estefania Martinez said.
On Tuesday, Martinez was among five officers to be honored as the “Officers of the Month” after they helped save the life of another stabbing victim — tourists from Michigan who had been robbed on Michigan Avenue last March.
“A man was bleeding profusely from the neck, and instinctively I fell back on my LEMART training that was provided by the Chicago Police Department and immediately used quick clot to stem the bleeding that the victim was suffering from,” said Officer Izzy Martinez in a sit-down interview following the incident.
“The officers immediately provided emergency medical care to the victim’s life-threatening wound,” said Phil Cine, with the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
Martinez’s sister accepted a framed certificate of recognition as “Officer of the Month,” an award Martinez will sadly never see after dying “suddenly and unexpectedly” according to his family.
He died just 15 days after saving the Michigan Avenue stabbing victim’s life. Martinez’s family members say they are still waiting for definitive word from the medical examiner’s office about the cause of his death.
His sister – who served with him in the US Army – remembered him not for his service, but for his sense of humor.
“My brother, he was a goofball. The both of us together were two peas in a pod,” said Estefania. “We were always joking, laughing, we made fun of each other.”
But it was a calling to help heal the city that led him to extra training – and studying.
“He always took time out…every day, even when he was on vacation, he always had a book in his hand, always reading how to do things properly,” Estefania Martinez said.
A guiding principle that serve and protect sometimes means save and protect.
“The sanctity of human life,” Martinez once said, “is the first thing that comes to mind when responding to any sort of situation.”