'That is such a huge sacrifice but I’m so proud of that': Huntsville PD holds fallen officer memorial service

Families who attended said they're grateful the department continues to honor fallen officers, no matter how long it's been.

Posted: Oct 15, 2021 4:41 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2021 6:34 PM

More than 700 fallen officers were added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial on Thursday, including Officer Billy Clardy III with the Huntsville Police Department.

On Friday morning, the Huntsville Police Department read off the names of their 12 officers who've made the ultimate sacrifice. Leslie Freeman, wife of the fallen officer Eric Freeman, said it doesn't get any easier hearing her husband's name read aloud, but it's crucial to have these memorials so people can remember the sacrifices that were made to keep everyone safe.

The Huntsville Police Department honors fallen officers

“It takes you back instantly to that moment of all that happened, but there’s a sense of pride in it," she said.

Eric Freeman died in the line of duty in December 2007. He was shot after responding to a car accident and died from his injuries the next day.

"He knew the risk of the job, and he was willing to go out and protect this community and others beyond just his family and himself," said Leslie Freeman. "I mean, that is such a huge sacrifice, but I’m so proud of that.”

With the shooting death of Sheffield Police Sgt., Nick Risner, Freeman said it's frustrating that another family has to go through this. She said officers like Risner and her husband don't risk their lives every day for the money — they do it because they love their community.

"They do it for people they’ve never met," Freeman said. "They do it for people that love them. They do it for people that hate them. And the fact that people do this to officers for seemingless, you know, un-understandable reasons, it creates an anger, and I don’t understand. I can’t comprehend that."

Other families of the fallen officers came to the memorial. Some said they're thankful that HPD continues to honor the fallen officers, no matter how long it's been. 

Freeman reminds other families that it's OK to ask for some support if you've lost a loved one in the line of duty.

“Lean on your department," she said. "Lean on the men and women of that department, because you’re hurt, yes — completely understand — but they’re hurting, also. They have lost a brother. Come together, and lean on one another."

Below is the list of officers honored by HPD at the annual service:

• Officer William J. Street, killed in 1883 while investigating a disturbance near the city's fairgrounds;

• Officer Frank McKissack, shot and killed in 1916 while attempting two stop two boys from getting on a train;

• Officer Ewell B. Starr, who died in 1953 after being injured in a motorcycle wreck while on duty;

• Officer Alan S. Logel Jr., who suffered a fatal heart attack in 1956 while responding to an incident;

• Officer Charles E. Drake Jr., killed in a motorcycle wreck in 1962 while responding to another wreck;

• Officer Preston R. Butler, who died after being severely burned in a motorcycle wreck in 1966;

• Officer William T. Gaskin, shot and killed during a traffic stop in 1968;

• Officer Billy Fred Clardy Jr., killed in a car wreck in 1978 while on his way to meet another officer;

• Officer Daniel Howard Golden, shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call in 2005;

• Officer William Eric Freeman, shot while attempting to arrest a DUI suspect in 2007;

• Officer Keith O'Neal Earle, who died of injuries from a car wreck in 2018; and

• Agent Billy Fred Clardy III, shot and killed during a narcotics operation in 2019.

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