In 2018, six Georgia police officers gave the ultimate sacrifice. They all died in the line of duty while protecting others.
Georgia has lost a total of 721 officers in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, since such records were kept. And December has been the deadliest month in the state over the years.
While the state’s officer-involved shootings have increased since 2017, fewer officers lost their lives. Each is remembered as a hero.
Feb. 9: Locust Grove police Officer Chase Lee Maddox
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His wife was due with the couple’s second son the day 26-year-old Maddox assisted two Henry County deputies. Deputies were attempting to serve an arrest warrant to Tierre Guthrie, who became combative and refused to go with the deputies. Maddox arrived at the rental home, less than two miles from his police department, to help. Within minutes, Guthrie fired shots, striking and killing Maddox. Two deputies were also injured, but one was able to return fire, killing Guthrie.
Maddox had worked for the department for nearly five years and was the first Locust Grove officer hired immediately after graduation from the police academy. Four days after his death, his wife delivered a healthy baby.
May 25: Savannah police Officer Anthony Christie
Christie proudly served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years and was a war veteran when he joined the Savannah police department in December 2015. Within months on the job, Anthony and other officers were honored for their work assisting in the search and rescue of a missing child abandoned in the woods by a robbery suspect.
On May 25, Christie was assisting with traffic control following a crash on I-16. That’s when his own patrol car was hit by a tractor-trailer.
Christie, 37, is survived by his wife of 15 years. His widow has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company.
Sept: 15: Ludowici police Chief Frank A. McClelland
The southeast Georgia native served in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Air Force before his career in law enforcement. After retiring from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, McClelland became the police chief in Ludowici, located about 60 miles outside of Savannah.
On Sept. 15, McClelland was attempting a traffic stop on a vehicle involved in a pursuit through two counties when the driver struck him. The vehicle then killed a motorcyclist. The suspect was arrested and charged with two counts of murder, vehicular homicide and DUI.
McClelland, 69, was a great-grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 42 years.
Oct. 20: Gwinnett County police Officer Antwan Toney
He was a Southern California native, but Toney proudly served in Georgia, where his passion was helping the youngest members of his community. Six days after turning 30 years old, Toney was killed.
Toney was responding to call about a suspicious vehicle in the Snellville area when he was shot, allegedly by a teenage gunman. Tafahree Maynard was the subject of an extensive manhunt for two days before he was found hiding in a backyard shed. Maynard, 18, was shot and killed after refusing to surrender and pointing a lawn mower blade at officers.
The Gwinnett community hosted numerous vigils and events to honor Toney, who had funeral services both in Georgia and California. In addition to his parents, Toney is survived by a grandfather, three siblings, three nieces and a godson.
Dec. 13: DeKalb County police Officer Edgar Isidro Flores
Officer Flores was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Candler Road, authorities said. Flores pulled over a male suspect near I-20 around 5 p.m., DeKalb police Chief James Conroy said at a news conference.
The suspect ran away, and when Flores pursued, the man pulled out a handgun and shot him, Conroy said. The suspect ran and hid behind a business, but officers found him with the help of a police dog. The suspect then shot the dog before being shot several times by the other officers.
Flores was hired by the department in May 2017 and graduated from the police academy on Nov. 4, 2017. He was 24.
Dec. 28: Henry County police Officer Michael Smith
A seven-year veteran of the Henry police department, Officer Smith was shot in the face Dec. 6 during a struggle with a man in a dentist’s office near McDonough. A single gunshot critically injured Smith and killed the man, 53-year-old DiMaggio McNelly.
Smith was critically injured and underwent emergency surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital. He was later transferred to the Shepherd Center for recovery. Early Friday, Smith died at Piedmont Hospital.
“Please keep the Smith family in your prayers,” a spokesman for the Henry police department said in a statement. “Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.”
Smith is survived by his wife and 3-year-old son. He was 33.