It has not been an easy time for Danvers Patrolman John Melto.
Attacked, and nearly killed, by a man he was trying to arrest in August 2011, Melto underwent two surgeries, lost 99 days of work, and then had to sit in court and be cross-examined by the criminal who had tried to kill him.
That criminal was Roy Limbaugh, who was acting as his own attorney during his trial last week. Melto had to listen silently while Limbaugh referred to the wounds as “scratches” that Melto had inflicted on himself. In fact, Limbaugh slashed the Danvers police officer four times in the throat — missing vital arteries by “millimeters,” his surgeon said — then cut him repeatedly on the hand and wrist, deep enough to cause nerve damage.
Throughout the ordeal, Melto has kept his cool, as he did that summer morning when, cut and bleeding, he got back into his cruiser and pursued Limbaugh until the officer was too lightheaded to drive.
In the words of Judge Howard Whitehead, that was “a true act of courage.”
Melto’s instinct to stop a dangerous criminal, protecting the public instead of himself, is a testament to the character and commitment of a man who truly put his life on the line.
Limbaugh is now behind bars, where he’ll be staying for a long, long time, unable to hurt anyone else.
For that, we can thank Melto and the other officers who did their duty and more.
They make us grateful and proud.