Thousands of mourners gathered at the Baltimore Convention Center on Tuesday for the funeral of Officer Keona Holley, who died last month from injuries sustained during an overnight shift at Curtis Bay.
A chorus of officials, family and loved ones have remembered Holley as a compassionate and dedicated officer who joined the Baltimore Police Department in a bid to change the status quo in his hometown.
Holley was shot in the head while sitting in her patrol car in Curtis Bay on December 16. Her family removed her from life support on December 23. The mother-of-four and 39-year-old grandmother joined the force two years earlier, telling the Insider site in a 2020 interview that the city police have a bad reputation.
“We have to change that, and change it together,” she said. “The community needs Baltimore City police officers who aren’t just there for a paycheck. They are here because they care.
Police charged two men with his murder and said their motives were unclear.
Her daughter remembered her as the “West Side mum” who took in children whose parents had been lost to violence.
“There are so many children who don’t have their mothers because of senseless violence, so many children who don’t have their fathers because of senseless violence. And she was that bridge. She was the one saying, ‘Hey, you kid now. You come home with me, ”she said. “I will miss it. I am so happy to have had a mother like her.
She will live the rest of her life trying to make her mother proud, she said.
Holley’s husband said their family was overwhelmed with support and thanked his late wife for showing him the power of unconditional love. The two met in elementary school over 25 years ago.
“She made a man out of me,” he said. “She showed me how to love and more importantly, showed me how to forgive.”
Holley was the first BPD officer to die on duty since Sean Suiter’s death in 2017. Police officers from across the country attended the funeral, saluting his body in an open casket vigil leading up to the ceremony. Officers from Fort Worth, Dallas, Boston, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC joined officers from across the state.
In his eulogy, Governor Larry Hogan said Holley served with passion and dedication.
“Keona has dedicated his life to trying to fix a little piece of what’s wrong with our world,” he said. “I believe this is the legacy of Officer Keona Holley.”
Mayor Brandon Scott called her a superwoman who effortlessly balanced her duties as an officer and a mother and served all with dignity and respect.
“She didn’t do what so many people do every day: wait on the sidelines, say the police department needs to be better, say the city needs to be better. She’s committed to the fight for a better Baltimore and we have to celebrate her for that, ”he said.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison recalled her difficulties in joining the department: Holley struggled to pass the required recruit aptitude test, but did not let this or other obstacles she encountered the prevent joining the force at 37.
“She ran into danger rather than away from it. Officer Holley ran to this call at a time in his life when most people are thinking about how to slow down, how to do less, how to avoid the difficult, how to avoid the dangerous, ”he said. .
Prior to joining the department, Holley worked at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, a public psychiatric facility, for over seven years. Lt. Curtis Worthy, Holley’s team commander in the Southern District, said she dreams of joining the Crisis Response Team, a new BPD unit that trains officers on how to respond to people in the process to mental health crises.
He said Holley was adored by the residents of Curtis Bay: “She answered calls for service where people were hurt, angry, scared, sometimes even suicidal. And she brought healing. She brought healing to a community ravaged by gun violence and drug addiction. “
Her fellow officers adored her too, Worthy said, recalling how she and another officer, “the shift leaders,” made a meal of pancakes, waffles, homemade fries, shrimp and oatmeal for the shift. Thanksgiving last year.
“She had a soft and pleasant voice, but she had a presence that filled the room,” he said. “She was an angel sent to us in human form.”
Holley’s daughter said her mother realized the vision that led her to become a police officer.
“She had this preconceived idea that cops had to be better. They needed to demonstrate better for the black community, ”she said. “And she did.”
Holley will be buried at King Memorial Park in western Baltimore County.