RICHMOND, Ky. – A central Kentucky police officer who was gunned down last week while investigating a robbery was remembered Wednesday for his kindness and his dedication to the community he served.
Richmond Police Chief Larry Brock said 33-year-old Daniel Ellis was an ideal officer who helped stranded motorists, gave an elderly woman rides home from work because she was afraid to walk and treated a person with mental illness as a human being instead of a problem.
"He treated people with compassion, dignity and respect, and that included those that he had to arrest," Brock said.
Ellis died at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington on Friday, two days after being shot in the head while searching an apartment for a robbery suspect. A second officer returned fire and struck 34-year-old Raleigh Sizemore Jr., who was treated at a hospital and handed over to police.
Sizemore pleaded not guilty Monday to charges including murder of a police officer, attempted murder, unlawful imprisonment and possession of a handgun by a felon.
Ellis' service began Wednesday morning with three officers saluting his flag-draped coffin at Eastern Kentucky University's Alumni Coliseum in Richmond.
Brock said Ellis excelled in his work during his seven years on the force and recently had been selected to become a detective. He said he wanted people to remember how Ellis lived because that's what made him a hero.
"We remember Daniel how he lived: a good man that helped others in need; a husband that was devoted to his wife; a man who exemplified what a father should be to his young son, Luke; a police officer that took the oath to protect and serve to heart; a true friend to all his fellow officers and all that knew him."
Minister Phillip Shumake, who officiated at the service, told the crowd about a recent day when the officer saw a man wearing a business suit walking alongside a road with a tent. When Ellis approached him, the man said he was on his way to a job interview. Ellis paid to get him a motel room.
Brock said the outpouring of community support since the shooting has been a "small sliver of light in this black cloud."
As the service wound down, people began lining the 100-mile procession to his gravesite in Adair County. Along the way, his patrol car sat in front of the Richmond Police Department and had been turned into a makeshift memorial filled with signs, notes for his family, balloons and stuffed animals. Flags, signs and blue ribbons dotted the roadsides and overpasses in communities along the way.
About 300 uniformed police officers and about 300 to 400 other people were at the cemetery after nightfall as bagpipers and drummers led the procession. Four mounted officers followed, one leading a riderless horse.
Helicopters flew in formation overhead, and some eight hours after Ellis' funeral began, a bugler played taps, guns were fired in salute and "Amazing Grace" could be heard as the bagpipers walked away.