Hundreds of police officers formed a funeral procession Friday morning to honor one of two Atlanta police officers killed in a helicopter crash Saturday night.
The funeral for Officer Richard J. Halford, 48, started at 11 a.m. after a police motorcade left Turner Field at 9:30 a.m. and proceeded to Jackson Memorial Baptist Church on Fairburn Road.
During the three-hour service, dignitaries and police officials talked about Halford, Channel 2 Action News reported.
“Every single person I’ve met that knew Officer Halford said he was a police officer’s police officer,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. “A man’s man, who loved his family, loved his daughter and loved doing his job.”
The funeral for the second officer, Shawn A. Smiley, 40, will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Atlanta at 4400 North Peachtree Road. A motorcade of fellow officers will depart Turner Field at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Officer Smiley’s family will receive visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Home at 4347 Flat Shoals Parkway, Decatur.
The officers were searching for a runaway boy Saturday night when their police helicopter crashed near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Hamilton E. Holmes drives near I-20.
The helicopter hit the top of a power line pole and its support cables before falling to the ground, federal government investigators said Sunday.
Ralph Hicks, investigator in charge for the National Transportation Safety Board, said witnesses reported that they heard the sound of a helicopter and saw a flash of light when it hit the pole. Part of the landing gear got stuck in the cables and later was taken down by utility crews.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Police spokesman Carlos Campos said donations are being accepted at any Wells Fargo bank branch for the Richard Halford Memorial Fund and the Shawn Smiley Memorial Fund.
Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, recently likened people with pre-existing medical conditions to wrecked cars and appeared to suggest that the sick are at fault for their illnesses just as drivers are at fault for their accidents.
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