Family, friends and colleagues poured praised on their memories of Atlanta Police Officer Shawn Smiley, Saturday, during his funeral at First Baptist Church of Atlanta.
Smiley and Officer Richard Halford were killed in a police helicopter crash at Martin Luther King and H.E. Holmes Drive on Saturday, Nov. 3, as they searched for a missing 9-year-old boy.
The child was later found safe.
Hundreds of officers from APD, Fulton County and nearby areas paid tribute in formation before the service. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta City Council also paid tribute to Smiley at the service.
“When I got the call last Saturday night, I knew it was not going to be good,” said Atlanta Police Chief George Turner. “I didn’t know how bad it was going to be and I certainly didn’t know I was going to be speaking at a funeral, this Saturday.”
Smiley was described a man fully committed to his family and job. “He loved to fly,” repeated members of the police department.
“We say good-bye to a true Aviator,” emphasized Major Robert Browning. “He was not with our APD family very long, but I’m here to tell you he made a lasting impression.”
Smiley 40, applied to the APD only four years ago. When he first came under Browning's command, he told the Major, very determinedly, that he was going to the air unit.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Smiley was a man with a passion and heart for service - a real hero.
"Your dad was an actual hero...not a microwave hero, not a made-up hero," said Reed to Smiley's three small children seated in the pews.
Speaking of Smiley and Halford getting the call for the lost boy, last Saturday, Reed said, Smiley and Halford didn't blink. "They get in a machine that's not even supposed to leave the ground. They defy gravity and they go to find the 9-year-old child, and in the process they sacrifice their own [lives]."
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, officials advised the helicopter be permanently grounded 11 years ago.
Reed said, many of us like to believe we can be heroes. Smiley and Halford were actual heroes every day, he said.
Shawn Smiley is survived by his wife Terra and their three small children ages 5, 7 and 9. Before the Atlanta Police Department, he served in the United States Navy and trained as a commercial pilot with American Eagle.
Officer Halford's funeral was held on Friday.