Fallen Philly Cop Robert Wilson Honored with Medal of Valor

The White House ceremony was "very powerful," according to Police Commissioner Richie Ross.

President Barack Obama presents Constance Wilson, grandmother of fallen Philadelphia Police Department Sgt, Robert Wilson III with his Medal of Valor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo | Carolyn Kaster, AP

President Barack Obama presents Constance Wilson, grandmother of fallen Philadelphia Police Department Sgt, Robert Wilson III with his Medal of Valor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 16, 2016. Photo | Carolyn Kaster, AP

The White House ceremony was nice, but oh, how Sgt. Robert Wilson‘s family wishes they hadn’t needed to be there for it.

President Barack Obama bestowed Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor awards today on 13 police officers for having displayed selfless bravery in the face of danger. Wilson was the first member of the Philadelphia Police Department to be tapped for the honor; he was the only honoree to receive the award posthumously.

Wilson, 30, was killed in a gun battle with two armed robbers that erupted inside a North Philly GameStop on March 5, 2015. Wilson had stopped at the store, Obama noted, to buy a present for his then-8-year-old son, who had done well at school. Brothers Ramon Williams and Carlton Hipps were charged with Wilson’s murder, but have yet to go to trial.

officer-robert-wilson-iii-400x400Wilson’s grandmother, Constance, received Wilson’s medal from Obama, who bent down and wrapped her in an embrace. Earlier in the ceremony, Obama singled out Wilson’s grandmother, sister and brother while describing how relatives of cops wait up at night, counting down the minutes until their loved ones make it home. “Please know how deeply sorry we are for you loss,” he said, “and how grateful we are for Sgt. Wilson’s service.”

Police Commissioner Richard Ross attended the White House event, and watched as some of the honorees consoled Wilson’s grandmother. “It was a very powerful ceremony,” he said. “We’re particularly honored that the president honored Sgt. Wilson. The valor he displayed that day was extraordinary, and we still mourn his passing.”

The recipients included police officers who responded to school shootings, armed robberies, kidnappings, hostage situations and domestic violence disputes, said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Some were on duty when they put their lives at risk; others were off duty but still intervened in a dangerous situation. “We all know it’s not the hour on the clock or the color of the shirt that determines a hero, but the heart of the guardian,” Lynch said.

Follow @dgambacorta on Twitter.