Funeral for slain Baton Rouge police
officer draws thousands
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[July 23, 2016]
By Sam Karlin
BATON ROUGE, La. (Reuters) - Police
officers from across the United States were among several thousand
mourners gathered at a church in Louisiana's state capital on Friday for
the first of three funerals for policemen killed this week by an Iraq
Baton Rouge police officer Matthew Gerald, 41, a veteran of the U.S.
Marines and U.S. Army who also served in Iraq, had been on the force
only a few months before his death on Sunday.
"His end of watch came too soon but he served well," Baton Rouge Police
Chief Carl Dabadie said as he fought back tears near the officer's
Gerald and two colleagues were killed and three were wounded by Gavin
Long, 29, a black former Marine from Kansas City, Missouri, less than
two weeks after the police killing of a black man in Baton Rouge on July
5. The shootings were the latest in a series of deadly encounters that
have sparked debate over policing and minorities in the United States.
Friday's mourners at the Healing Place Church included a police
contingent from Dallas, where five officers were killed on July 7 by
another black former U.S. serviceman.
"We felt it was very important to come support Baton Rouge today," said
Christina Smith, a deputy chief with the Dallas Police Department.
Funerals for the other slain officers - East Baton Rouge Sheriff's
Deputy Brad Garafola and Officer Montrell Jackson of the Baton Rouge
Police Department - will be held on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
The officers were gunned down in what Louisiana officials have described
as a calculated attack by Long. The shooting rattled a city already
grappling with protests after the fatal police shooting on July 5 of
Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man confronted by officers while
selling CDs outside a convenience store.
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The casket containing Matthew Gerald is carried by pallbearers after
a funeral service at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
U.S. July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Police said Long had intended to kill as many officers as possible
before a SWAT team marksman fatally shot him. One wounded sheriff's
deputy remains in critical condition, while another left a Baton
Rouge hospital on Thursday after surgeries to repair serious arm
On Friday, the commander of the city's police academy recalled
asking Gerald, a married father of two children, why he wanted to be
"I have served my country, and now itís time to serve my community,"
Gerald answered, according to commander J.D. Leach.
Hundreds of officers lined a long walkway as Gerald's casket was
carried to a hearse after the service, saluting the fallen
(Additional reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by
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