CONTINUING COVERAGE: Henry County officer remembered by hundreds: ‘He saved lives that day.’

01/03/2019 — McDonough, Georgia — The casket of Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith is carried into Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough on Thursday. Smith, 33, was shot Dec. 6 while responding to a report of an irate man at a McDonough-area dental office. Three weeks later, Smith died from his injuries. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

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01/03/2019 — McDonough, Georgia — The casket of Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith is carried into Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough on Thursday. Smith, 33, was shot Dec. 6 while responding to a report of an irate man at a McDonough-area dental office. Three weeks later, Smith died from his injuries. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

He was the type of husband who put his wife’s towels in the dryer to warm them while she showered. As a police officer, his priority was to help others.

From a smiling boy who played baseball with his brother, Michael Wayne Smith grew up to become not only a husband and father, but also the type of officer others wanted to be: Selfless and humble.

One month ago, Smith tried to calm a man causing a disturbance at a dental office. On Thursday, a community gathered to say goodbye, joined by uniformed officers from various Georgia police agencies.

“Michael will always be a part of this family,” Henry police Chief Mark Amerman said during the funeral.

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Officer Michael Smith, of the Henry County, Georgia, Police Department, was shot Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, during a struggle with a man inside a dentist's office. He died of his injures on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.

Credit: Henry County Police Department

Officer Michael Smith, of the Henry County, Georgia, Police Department, was shot Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, during a struggle with a man inside a dentist's office. He died of his injures on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.

Credit: Henry County Police Department

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Officer Michael Smith, of the Henry County, Georgia, Police Department, was shot Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, during a struggle with a man inside a dentist's office. He died of his injures on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.

Credit: Henry County Police Department

Credit: Henry County Police Department

Smith was shot Dec. 6 — struck in the face by the same bullet that killed the man he was struggling to subdue. Smith survived emergency surgery and was recovering when his condition changed. On Dec. 28, he died from his injuries. Smith was 33, celebrating a birthday one week after being shot.

Thursday afternoon, officers escorted Smith’s body to Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough, where hundreds paid their respects. Law enforcement officers, firefighters and 911 dispatchers, representing various Georgia agencies, filled the sanctuary.

PHOTOS: The funeral for Henry County Officer Michael Smith

“He saved lives that day,” Amerman said. “But he was a hero long before that.”

Smith was a seven-year veteran of the Henry police department. He wasn’t an officer to complain, and instead stayed busy, always eager to help others, the chief said, while pausing to hold back tears. “Michael was a chief’s cop.”

Pastor Bart Stone, who officiated at Smith’s wedding, spoke Thursday, recalling stories the couple had shared before getting married. Stone said that Smith adored his bride, Erin, and the two built a strong marriage before starting a family. In addition to his wife, Smith is survived by his 3-year-old son, Asher.

Smith was always the same, good-natured person, and the “tough cop” persona simply didn’t fit, Stone said. When a 5-year-old relative protested wearing her seat belt, Smith had talked to her about how important it was for her to stay safe. And the little girl had vowed to do what he had asked, Stone said.

A video shown during the service told the story of Smith’s life, from a young boy sitting with Santa or posing with his brother and parents for a family portrait. Then there were pictures with his wife and more with their young son, a curly-haired boy with a striking resemblance to his father.

Six Georgia officers died in the line of duty in 2018, including four in metro Atlanta. Smith was the second Henry officer to die in 2018. In February, Locust Grove police Officer Chase Maddox was shot and killed while assisting deputies serving a warrant.

On Thursday, the same church again hosted the funeral for a second local hero.

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01/03/2019 — McDonough, Georgia — First responders salute the casket of slain Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith as his body is carried into Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough on Thursday. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

01/03/2019 — McDonough, Georgia — First responders salute the casket of slain Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith as his body is carried into Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough on Thursday. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

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01/03/2019 — McDonough, Georgia — First responders salute the casket of slain Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith as his body is carried into Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough on Thursday. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Smith graduated from Henry County High school in 2004 and later earned a criminal justice degree from Clayton State University. Smith was responding to a call of an irate man at a dental office when a shot was fired, killing the man and critically injuring Smith.

While Smith was recovering at the Shepherd Center, his wife fainted and hit her head, also requiring emergency surgery. On Thursday, Erin Smith sat between her parents and her husband’s parents. She chose the music to end the ceremony, a praise song titled “Glorious Day” by Passion, and the powerful lyrics were displayed on two large video screens.

“You called my name. And I ran out of that grave. Out of the darkness. Into your glorious day”

Before the song finished, Erin Smith stood up and put her right hand up, as if toward Heaven. Others in the church followed.

“Michael’s home,” Stone said. “He’s in a better place.”

Outside, police motorcycles, patrol cars and firetrucks lined up, a sea of mostly blue, flashing lights with a few splashes of red and white mixed in. The emergency responders then followed the hearse away from the church.

Nearby streets were lined with people waving small American flags, some with a hand over their heart, as the procession left the church. A private burial was held at Eastlawn Memorial Park.