Hundreds bid farewell to fallen APD officer


ATLANTA,None - Hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the Southeast gathered at the funeral of Atlanta Police Officer Gail Thomas.

Thomas died last week after investigators said a drunken driver slammed into her as she was working a traffic accident along Interstate 75 near Northside Drive.

Chasity Jones, 22, remains in the Fulton County Jail without bond on DUI and vehicular homicide charges.

The line of police and deputy cars stretched back for more than a mile as they all tried to roll into the parking lot of the Elizabeth Baptist Church on Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta.

The Atlanta Fire Department suspended a huge American flag between two ladder trucks to form an arch under which the processional drove.

Inside the church, city leaders and fellow police officers memorialized Thomas; some of the voices wracked with emotion.

"Do not mourn Gail Thomas," said APD Zone 5 Commander Maj. Christopher Leighty. "Gail's alright. Mourn for our loss and the fact the world is a little less bright because of the loss of her physical presence in our life."

"I pray that we continue to celebrate Gail Thomas' life as we continue to serve our citizens in this city," Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said.

Thomas was a 15-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. She served as a 911 dispatcher for five years before that. She was also a member of the Atlanta Police Honor Guard.

During the service, the honor guard knelt in front of Thomas' daughter, Jasmine Sherman, and prayed with her and other family members.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told Jasmine that the city has her back as she studies at Georgia Southern in Statesboro.

"I want all of you to know that we take care of our own and their families," said Reed. "That will be the measure of us."


Officers from near and far pay respects to Thomas

Police officers from cities, counties, towns, universities and states from miles around attended Thomas' funeral.

Long after the funeral was scheduled to begin, the family of police kept arriving, joining the long line snaking into the church.

Many were retired, but came back for family.

"It's amazing if you look at the agencies here, every time you go to a police funeral like this, it gets bigger and bigger. You see support from out-of-state and local," retired Maj. Wayne Mock said.

"SPO Thomas was the epitome of what a good officer is, and I just loved her," said retired Sgt. Marcia Dell.

Officers told Channel 2's Jeff Dore there is a bond of the uniform.

"Well, we stick together. We're a big family. A family of blue. And it doesn't matter where you're from," APD Officer Donald Baker said.

You hear the words, "We're family," a lot.

Two girls held up signs of support because they, too are family. Their grandparents are police officers.

"They're keeping me safe for what they're doing here and what they always do," Kacia Moreland, 7, said.

The horses that pulled Thomas' caisson is the same that pulled former President Ronald Reagan's coffin.

Thomas' colleagues said they gave her the respect due a president.

Dore said it was amazing that every one of the police officers he met, working or retired, personally knew Thomas and felt she had touched their lives.

Thomas was laid to rest at the Mount Harmony Cemetery in Mableton.