The past week has been an especially difficult week for those of us in law enforcement. While a lot of people have heard about the shooting in New Jersey that took the life of Detective Joseph Seals of the Jersey City PD, others have received far less publicity.
On Thursday, Dec. 12, Constable Eula Ray Hawkins of the Panola County Constable’s Office in Mississippi was killed in the line of duty when his vehicle was struck by a stolen pickup truck that was being pursued by other officers.
Two teenagers, identified as Darion Dogan, 16, and Johnathan Taylor, 15, will both be charged as adults under Mississippi law.
Police say the teenagers stole a 2018 Chevrolet Colorado in nearby Tallahatchie County and were going through the town of Batesville, and at one point, crashed head-on into Hawkins’ car.
“The speed we believe the vehicle was going there was nothing he could do. They crashed right into him and crushed him under the vehicle,” said District Attorney John Champion. “You see so much of this happen with these young kids who, in my opinion, don’t care or don’t understand the value of human life,” he continued.
Tragically, Hawkins’s son, a Batesville police officer, was one of the first officers on the scene.
“It’s a hard time,” said Batesville Police Chief John McCloud. “His sone was one of the first on the scene, so it’s just a heartbreaking experience.”
On Friday, the Batesville Police announced that Constable Hawkins’ body would be transported to Batesville from Jackson this past Friday. Funeral arrangements for him are currently incomplete. Constable Hawkins served in law enforcement for 29 years.
The two teenagers involved in the pursuit have been charged with murder.
Two weeks ago, Sgt. Joshua Voth, 28, of the Colorado Department of Corrections was killed when a boiler suffered a catastrophic explosion at the Fremont Correctional Facility in Canon City.
Sgt. Voth had served with the department for three years and is survived by his wife and three children.
Sgt. Voth was a licensed trade supervisor who taught inmates trade skills.
In a news release issued by the corrections department, CDOC Executive Director Dean Williams said:
“It is hard to put into words the level of sadness we all feel to have lost Josh. His DOC family grieves with his wife, three precious children, and all of the friends and family who loved him.”
The cause of the explosion is currently unknown.
Sgt. Voth was laid to rest a week ago this past Friday, following an emotional memorial service at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
The eulogy was given by CDOC Chaplain Kevin Steenbergen. He said that DOC employees have an unbreakable bond, a bond so strong that DOC employees from across the country came to the memorial, even though they didn’t know Sgt. Voth.
“This job requires constant vigilance, no matter what part of the facility you work in.” This vigilance creates a bond among workers that’s nothing less than family,” he told the hundreds of people in attendance.
CDOC Executive Director Dean Williams said that he and many others shared the grief of Sgt. Voth’s family.
“There are no words to adequately express how shocked, stunned and grief stricken we are,” Williams said.
“Yet we profoundly know that our pain and grief is only a shadow, only a small portion, of what [his family] is going through. If there was some way, some magical way, to slightly lift this horrible pain you are all going through, we of course would…”
Matt Thompson, Voth’s father-in-law said something during the service which caused some in attendance to sob.
“I am forever grateful to him for the three wonderful grandchildren he blessed us with,” he said through tears.
Morgan Thompson, Voth’s sister-in-law, read a letter that his wife Tomi wrote about her late husband.
“He is and always will be my best friend,” she said. “There will always be a hole in my heart that will never heal. He was my person, my soulmate. It takes some people decades to find their one true love. And I was lucky enough to meet mine at 18.”
She was robbed of so much time together.
“Although our time together was short, the happiness in life will last a lifetime,” she continued. “I lost my husband, my best friend, my soulmate. But I take comfort in knowing how much he loved me and our three beautiful babies. They will grow up knowing he sacrificed for them and I will constantly remind them how great their father was and how much he loved them…To the greatest husband, father and friend, I love you always and forever.”
Two funds have been set up to directly support the family. To donate online, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/memorial-for-voth-family.
Meanwhile, an officer with the Ozark, AL police department remains in critical condition after being lured into an ambush and shot last Thursday night.
Officer Samuel Yoh was hit several times, including to his head and was transported to Southeast Health in Dothan, AL. Yoh’s backup officer returned fire at the suspect, killing him. The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Bradly Cutchens.
As LET originally reported, officers were dispatched to a suicide threat at 9:52 P.M. in the area of Briar Hills and College Street.
As officers arrived at the scene and attempted to make contact with the suspect, the person threatening suicide opened up with a .357 rifle and shot Off. Yoh three times.
Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker has requested that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation conduct an independent investigation of the shooting.
SBI is the lead investigating agency. Once they have completed their investigation, the chief said that a copy of the investigation will be turned over to Dale County District Attorney.
Governor Kay Ivey offered her thoughts in a Twitter post on Friday night.
“I’m saddened to hear of the news coming out of Ozark this morning, where a police officer was shot in the line of duty. I’m praying for this member of the Ozark Police Department and his family during this difficult time.”
I’m saddened to hear of the news coming out of Ozark this morning, where a police officer was shot in the line of duty. I’m praying for this member of the Ozark Police Department and his family during this difficult time. @EverythingOzark #alpolitics #BackTheBlue #ThinBlueLine
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) December 13, 2019
U.S. Senator Doug Jones was in Ozark and shared his thoughts on the shooting:
“This has been a difficult time for Alabama’s police officers in the last three weeks and last night’s shooting was just another example of how these men and women put their lives on the line every day even in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Jones.
Officer Yoh remains in our thoughts and prayers. Hopefully doctors are able to pull him through this terrible shooting. We also pray for his family and all our brothers and sisters in blue.
The list of officers who have been attacked or killed this week seems to go on and on.
In addition to these, we lost five more brave men and women this week.
How is it that we’re so divided between who supports police and who doesn’t that five heroes ripped from their families just two weeks before Christmas isn’t considered “newsworthy”?
We’re sick of it. Help us honor these brave men and women who gave their lives as part of something greater than themselves.
The two most recent line of duty deaths came on December 10.
Detective Joseph Seals – End of Watch: December 10, 2019
Detective Joseph Seals was killed when confronting armed suspects shot and killed him in a New Jersey cemetery. Seals encountered the two subjects, a man and woman, in a van that was linked to a murder investigation in Bayonne.
According to reports from ODMP, the detective was shot in the back of the head. The two armed suspects then reportedly fled the scene in the stolen vehicle and took cover in a kosher grocery store in Jersey City.
During the standoff, the armed suspects allegedly murdered multiple victims inside the establishment and fired rounds at officers who were responding to the scene. The shootout was described as sounding like a “war zone” in the major city.
Two additional officers were wounded during the standoff. After some time, police stormed the store and eliminated the armed suspects inside.
Seals was 40-years-old and had been serving in law enforcement for nearly two decades.
He is survived by his wife and five children.
Sergeant Kaila Sullivan – End of Watch: December 10, 2019
Sgt. Sullivan was tragically killed on Tuesday after a wanted suspect trying to evade police fled the scene of a traffic stop, hitting Sullivan with his car as he sped off.
Officers in Nassau Bay, Texas made a traffic stop in the parking lot an apartment complex at 2002 San Sebastian Court around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night.
According to police, the driver was wanted on a warrant out of Harris County for assault on a family member.
When officers tried to arrest the person, he fought with them and was able to escape and get back into his vehicle.
Our deepest condolences to the entire Nassau Bay Police Department. Sgt. Kaila Sullivan was 43-years-old. She was killed just a little more than two weeks short of her 16th anniversary with the Nassau Bay Police Department. She was the sergeant over the night shift there. pic.twitter.com/V9zfD4NIvN
— HCSOHonorGuard (@HCSOHonorGuard) December 11, 2019
He sped off, hitting Sgt. Kaila Sullivan with the vehicle. EMS rushed to the scene and attempted CPR on her – but she passed away at HCA Houston Clear Lake Hospital shortly after.
Police said the driver was found a short distance from the original traffic stop.
Webster Police Department and Harris County Sheriff Office are assisting with the investigation while the agency mourns the loss of their officer.
Sgt. Sullivan was only forty-three years old and lived in Friendswood, Texas.
December 27th would have marked her 16th anniversary with the City of Nassau Bay Police Department.
“I want to personally thank all the citizens and public officials who have reached out to our department with thoughts and prayers,” said Police Chief Tim Cromie.
Sgt. Sullivan was the second Houston area officer murdered in just three days.
Sergeant Christopher Brewster – End of Watch : December 7, 2019
Sergeant Christopher Brewster was murdered Saturday evening by a man who had been reported for assault, according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Police officials the 32-year-old officer was shot just before 6 p.m. on December 7.
This is Sergeant Christopher Brewster, 32. He graduated from the HPD Academy in November 2010. In nine years, he was assigned to patrol and Gang and Major Offenders Divisions. He promoted in February 2019 and was assigned to Eastside Patrol. EOW: 12-7-19. #hounews pic.twitter.com/ZUaE7EnEv6
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) December 8, 2019
At the press briefing, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters that a call came in from a female victim who reported that her boyfriend was assaulting her and was armed with two firearms.
When police got there, they didn’t find the couple.
Sgt. Brewster holding my Partner’s son, my godson Bryson.
I never knew that yesterday evening when you checked by the Fiesta while we were working the Comida Food Drive,that would be the last time I would see you again. Sgt. C. Brewster we love and miss you. 🖤💙🖤🌹😢#HPDStrong pic.twitter.com/X2QNic0h7T
— GHPAL Officer Michon (@MichonMegan) December 8, 2019
Acevedo said Brewster spotted them three streets away on Houston’s east side. When he went to exit his vehicle, he was shot at and hit multiple times.
Acevedo said even though Brewster was fatally wounded, he called and reported the shooting, allowing other officers to contain the area.
LISTEN: HPD Chief @ArtAcevedo hailed the late Sgt. Chris Brewster a hero after he radioed a critical suspect description that helped officers later catch the gunman, despite being shot several times #hounews
Here's what he said: pic.twitter.com/hjLBKsiO6T
— Jay R. Jordan (@JayRJordan) December 8, 2019
“Although he was mortally wounded, he had the presence of mind to draw his pistol out of his holster to protect himself in case the suspect came up and he also had the presence of mind and courage to put out and broadcast suspect information that was critical for the responding units,” Acevedo said.
About a half-hour after the shooting, which was captured on body cameras, Brewster succumbed to his injuries and died.
At first, Acevedo said Brewster wasn’t wearing his vest. He later confirmed that the officer was.
“What people will see is a coward who took the life of a hero,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo said his murderer was 25-year-old Arturo Solis, who fled on foot.
Houston Police say this man, 25-year-old Arturo Solis, shot Sgt. Chris Brewster in the street before taking off on foot into the neighborhood, jumping fences and allegedly ditching a gun. #KHOU11 pic.twitter.com/gBhGoTYaYo
— Matt Dougherty (@MattKHOU) December 8, 2019
Officers rushing to the area saw him jumping fences. When he was caught near a school, they say he was armed with a semi-automatic pistol.
Acevedo later tweeted that police recovered both firearms and other evidence discarded by the suspect. On Sunday, he was charged with capital murder and is behind held without bond.
Sergeant Brewster was 32-years-old and had served with the Houston force for nine years. He is survived by his wife, parents, and three sisters.
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Officer Stephen Carr – End of Watch: December 7, 2019
On Saturday, we also lost an officer from Fayetteville, Arkansas.
That night, officers reported hearing gunshots behind the Fayetteville Police Department.
Police from inside the department responded immediately and heard additional gunshots. When they got into the back lot, they found an armed suspect directly behind the police department.
That suspect was later identified as London T. Phillips, 35, of Fayetteville.
Police said Phillips and the officers fired their weapons at each other, striking the suspect repeatedly.
Moments later, officers located Officer Stephen Carr shot inside his patrol vehicle.
Just three minutes later, Fayetteville Fire Department and Central EMS arrived on scene and began life-saving efforts for both the officer and suspect. Police said both the wounded officer and suspect succumbed to their injuries and died at the scene.
Police say that the evidence shows that Officer Carr was ambushed and executed while sitting in his patrol vehicle.
Officer Carr had served with the Fayetteville Police Department for 2-1/2 years and was assigned to the Bicycle Unit.
Agent Billy Fred Clardy III – End of Watch: December 6, 2019
On Friday December 6, America lost a U.S. Army veteran and a tremendous police officer from Huntsville, Alabama.
Billy Fred Clardy III, a husband and father of five, was shot and killed in the line of duty. He was only 48-years-old.
According to police, the shooting happened during a drug task force operation around 4 p.m. Friday near the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Levert Street Northeast.
- READ: NEW JERSEY WEBSITE ATTACKS POLICE OFFICER JUST HOURS AFTER HE WAS MURDERED. HERE’S OUR RESPONSE.
Police said Brown drew a gun and shot Clardy. Clardy was wearing a bulletproof vest, but the bullet went through the top of the vest and into the officer’s heart.
They spent more than an hour trying to save his life at Huntsville Hospital, but were unable to.
On Saturday afternoon, Huntsville police Chief Mark McMurray publicly announced the officer’s name at the Fallen Officer Memorial outside the police department’s headquarters.
Clardy became a Huntsville police officer in 2005, then joined the Madison-Morgan County HIDTA Drug Task Force, known as the STAC team, in 2018.
Prior to that, he worked for the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office and the Fayetteville Police Department in Tennessee and was also was a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army.
“Billy Clardy was more than a Hunsville hero,” McMurray said. “He was an American hero.”
According to McMurray, Clardy had received dozens of awards during his time at HPD, including 19 certificates of commendation, two outstanding unit citations and eight letters of appreciation.
During his 14 years at the department, he had been a patrolman, community resource officer and training officer among his other assignments.
During his time in the military, Clardy received the National Defense Medal, Army Service Medal and Overseas Service Ribbon.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle described Clardy as a dedicated community advocate who cared deeply for the local homeless population.
In speaking about him, he called him a “good friend” and “special gift” to the city.
“Our whole community is feeling the hurt of losing one of our own,” Battle said. “Billy Clardy is someone who will be missed … someone who set a standard for us as a community.”
With these heroes being taken from their families, friends and co-workers just days before the holidays, we have a message for the media who glanced right over their deaths: their lives mattered.
Help us pay tribute to these fallen heroes… and say a prayer for our country.
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