Dallas Police Honor Fallen Officers At Service Marking 5 Years Since The 2016 Police Shootings
The Dallas Police Department and the City of Dallas commemorated officers lost in the line of duty, with a special remembrance of the fifth anniversary of the July 7, 2016 shootings.
The Dallas Police Memorial service began with a march, which kicked off on the corner of Griffin Street and Young Street in downtown Dallas. The march was led by officers on motorcycles and officers on foot carrying flags and playing snare drums. It ended just a few blocks away, in front of the Dallas Police Memorial across from City Hall.
There, members of the Dallas Police Choir performed for off-duty officers, city employees, police cadets and the family members of police officers who died on July 7, 2016.
After the Choir’s performance, Police Chief Eddie Garcia, who joined the DPD earlier this year, spoke to the crowd about the risks and sacrifices law enforcement officers endure while on duty. He thanked the families for making ‘the ultimate sacrifice’.
“I understand that there’s a hole in your heart that’s never going to be filled. And for that, my heart goes out to each and every one of you" he said. "But please know this — that your husband, your son, your brother, your dad died a hero because he was unafraid of the darkness.”
Garcia also reflected upon his personal memory from the day of the July 7 shooting. He said he "wept" after hearing the news. Garcia assured everyone in the audience that no officer who has died in the line of duty will be forgotten.
“We will remember all guardians that came before us who wore this uniform with pride," he said. "Those that swore an oath to this city. Those who believe the patch we wear is more than part of a uniform. Not only sewn on a sleeve but embedded into who we are."
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson wasn't present for the memorial. But Mayor Pro Tem Chad West read a proclamation from the Mayor which said when he thinks about July 7, he thinks about the sacrifice made by the fallen officers, "what it means to be the type of person who chooses to do for a living something that most of us aren't really cut out to do and that is to be willing to lay down your life."
A large part of the memorial event focused on the fifth anniversary of the July 7, 2016 shootings in downtown Dallas. That night a peaceful protest was punctuated with gunfire that killed five police officers and injured nine others plus two civilians. Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa and Michael Smith and DART officer Brent Thompson lost their lives. The city was shaken for days.
Protesters that day were rallying against police shootings of Black men — specifically, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota — that summer. As the event was wrapping up, the atmosphere changed when Micah Johnson started shooting. After a standoff in the loading dock of El Centro College, Johnson was killed by a bomb detonated by a police robot.
Residents managed to come together for an interfaith prayer service, a candlelight vigil and the memorial attended by Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, then-Mayor Mike Rawlings, now retired Dallas Police Chief David Brown and countless others.
In 2016, Terrance Hopkins led Dallas Police officers from a command post, as they tried to locate the shooter.
Hopkins currently serves as president of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas. He said what happened five years ago has had a lasting effect on the Dallas Police Department.
"Since that was our first major attack on any law enforcement agency in the country based on what had been occurring — yeah, it made us change the game as far as how we prepare for events like this," he said.
Wednesday's memorial included a reading of the Roll Call of Honor, a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and a flyover by a Dallas Police Helicopter.
None of the family members of the officers killed five years ago spoke during the memorial. But afterward, Valerie Zamarripa, mother of Patrick Zamarripa, who died in 2016, told the media that her "happy-go-lucky" son would be both proud and overwhelmed by this event celebrating him and his fellow officers.
“Just remembering my son and the others is what it’s all about," she said. "The last five years have been rough. But as we move forward and I keep his name, his memory, it keeps me moving forward.”
Zamarripa and her granddaughter lit candles and left yellow roses at the memorial in his honor.
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