LAWRENCEVILLE - A little adrenaline, according to Shawn A. Taylor, can bring the linebacker out in anybody.
Police credit the diminutive Lawrenceville resident - weighing in at a slight 160 pounds - with going all Brian Urlacher on a suspected robber last month, and possibly saving an officer's life in the process.
Taylor, 34, was honored by the Gwinnett County Police Department's top brass Thursday for his courageous "tackle" on Dec. 18 that freed the downed officer, Jeff Smith.
Police said the robbery suspect was pummeling Smith on Sever Road in Lawrenceville with one hand, reaching for the officer's weapon with the other, when Taylor - on a lunch break from work - stopped his car, rushed in and bulldozed the suspect, who fled.
"I firmly believe that Mr. Taylor's actions saved the life of either Officer Smith or the suspect," Gwinnett police Lt. Paul Tucker said.
Like most heroes, Taylor says he happened to be in a bad place at the right time. He was headed to grab some fast food about 11:30 a.m. that day, when he saw Smith atop the suspect, then the suspect on top of Smith, flailing away, he says. The rest is a blur.
"I really didn't want to stop - I'm not going to lie to you - but at that point something bad was going to happen, one way or another," Taylor recalled Thursday. "It all happened so quick ... I really didn't remember going to the ground, but I had grass all over me."
Taylor, who's married with a young son and daughter, never played organized football. The reaction, he said, was instinctual.
"I'm sure adrenaline played a part," he said.
The man he leveled, Ahmaad Jarvis, 22, was suspected in an earlier armed robbery and home invasion that day. When Taylor hit him, police said, Jarvis fled to a nearby home on Summer Hollow Trail. A Gwinnett police SWAT team captured him in an upstairs room hours later.
Jarvis remains at the Gwinnett County Jail with an alleged accomplice, Mariel Orr, 21, who was arrested at the scene of the earlier robbery, police said. Both men are from Atlanta.
Thursday's ceremony came at an otherwise low point for Taylor, who was recently laid off from his position as assistant facility manager at Wika Instrument Corp., a Lawrenceville manufacturer. Taylor also incurred a slight tear in his shoulder during the impact, which he dismisses as no big deal.
In light of those misfortunes, Tucker, the lieutenant, solicited monetary donations from officers in the department.
In addition to a nifty plaque, Taylor received a check for $2,500 on Thursday. He considers the cash fuel for his job search.
"It was pretty neat, to be honest with you," Taylor said of the ceremony. "I didn't really expect all that."