WPD remember officers who were killed in the line of duty

Officer Richard Matthews
Officer Richard Matthews

Reported by Lynda Figueredo - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As part of National Police Week, the Wilmington Police Department held their annual law enforcement memorial service.

It was an emotional ceremony as officers remember Officer Richard Matthews and seven others who were killed in the line of duty.

"It hit home this year because officer Rich Matthews died three months ago," said Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous.

Officer Matthews died in a car crash while responding to another officer's back-up call during a traffic stop.

"It's been difficult," said Officer Will Hatcher.  "We all deal with it in our own ways.  Rich was a good guy."

Holding a rose in their hands, Wilmington Police Officers lined the sidewalk in front of headquarters.  The roses represent each officer killed in the line of duty in the department's history.

As Matthews' wife placed a rose on the wreath, fellow officers struggled to hold back their tears.

Officer Chris Williams was added to the fallen officer roll call.

"He was in service training and had an accident and hurt his back," said Chief Evangelous.  "They did surgery but he ended up dying."

Thursday, Williams' wife and sister placed a rose in the wreath in his honor.

"You hear those names and all lives lost over the years at police department - it was a sombering moment," said Officer Hatcher.  "Hearing that your out there, putting your life on the line - it keeps more real to you."

With badges covered with a black memorial band, the guns salute, the pipes and drums echo the familiar tune of Amazing Grace, Wilmington Police Officers look forward to the future while always remembering those who have passed.

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