Police from across Georgia honor fallen APD officers



ATLANTA - Hundreds of police, firefighters and emergency officials from around Georgia and the Southeast lined up to honor an officer killed in an Atlanta police helicopter crash.

Officers Richard Halford and Shawn Smiley were killed Saturday night when the helicopter they were using to search for a missing 9-year-old crashed.

A motorcade of officers lined up early Friday morning at Turner Field and proceeded to Jackson Memorial Baptist Church for memorial services. News Chopper 2 showed a long line of police cruisers and motorcycles stretching across the interstate and greeted by even more officers at the church.

Dignitaries and police officials spoke at length about Halford during the three hour service.

“Every single person I've met that knew Officer Halford said he was a police officer's police officer.  A man's man, who loved his family, loved his daughter and loved doing his job,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said.

Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin said he had a conversation with Halford about what he would do if his helicopter experienced trouble.

“He told me that if anything ever happened, I'm going to find an empty street and set it down.  And that's what he did.  Richard served with courage and he died being courageous,” Martin said.

Law enforcement officers from as far away as Escambia County, Florida attended the funeral.

 "We're a small unit, a close unit," said Halford's supervisor Sgt. David Tolleson. "To say we're anything but devastated would be an understatement."

 Halford's daughter attended the funeral along with other members of his family.

Halford was with the APD Air Unit for more than 16 years serving as a pilot, and with the Police Department for 26 years.

The man who helped teach Halford how to fly told the audience how proud he was of him. 

"I'm proud of Richard," sand Senior Pilot Leroy Champion. "He carried himself in a professional manner, in a police manner, in a safe manner, and he made you proud of who he was at all times."


Halford’s funeral concluded with another processional to Forest Lawn Cemetery in College Park. There Halford was laid to rest after a memorial service with bagpipes and a helicopter flyover.

The National Transportation and Safety Board is investigating what caused the helicopter crash.

Smiley's funeral will be held at First Baptist Church of Atlanta at 11 a.m. Saturday. Channel 2 Action News will bring you live Team 2 coverage on Saturday and WSBTV.com will stream the funeral live.

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