Community Gathers to Pay Respects to Fallen Police Officer

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McDonough, GA / USA – January 3, 2019: Residents gather on the city square in downtown McDonough along the funeral process route for Officer Michael Smith (Photo by Lee Reese).

McDonough, GA / USA, January 3, 2019: Hundreds of people paid their respects to Officer Michael Smith today by lining the streets of downtown McDonough along the route of his funeral procession.

Officer Michael Smith, 33, a seven-year veteran of the Henry County Police Department, died on Dec. 28, 2018, three weeks after he was shot responding to an unruly-person call at a dentist’s office. Officer Smith is the fourth law enforcement officer in Henry County to be shot and second to die from firearm wounds in 2018. Officer Chase Maddox with the Locust Grove Police Department died Feb. 9, 2018 after being shot while assisting with a warrant service. Officer Smith was one of six law enforcement officers in the State of Georgia and forty-nine law enforcement officers to be killed by a firearm in the United States in 2018.

Officer Smith’s funeral was held today at Glen Haven Baptist Church in McDonough. Following the funeral service, the procession followed a route from the church to the city square so that the community could gather and show its respect for Officer Smith and his family.  Officers from dozens of law enforcement, fire, and support agencies joined in both the funeral service, as well as, the funeral procession to the cemetery.

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McDonough, GA / USA – January 3, 2019: Law enforcement officers from several agencies on motorcycles lead the hearse carrying the body of Officer Michael Smith of the Henry County Police Department (Photo by Lee Reese).

The funeral procession route began at Glen Haven, turned west along John Frank Ward Blvd from Hwy 155 to the city square, south on Griffin Street, then east on Keys Ferry Road.  The procession then ended on McGarity Road at Eastlawn Memorial Park for the graveside service.

Members of the community waved U.S. flags and signs supporting both Officer Smith’s family and the Henry County Police Department. One child was dressed in a U.S. Marine Corps uniform and waived a U.S. flag.  Employees of several businesses and government offices stood in front of their places of employment with U.S. Flags. A Boy Scouts of America Troop strung a banner of U.S. Flags along the intersection of John Frank Ward Blvd across Macon Street.

Husband and wife, Joseph and Amanda Smith were among those who gathered in front of Clay Plaza.

Amanda Smith said it was important for them to come out to watch the funeral procession because it is for the community.

“So, the family knows we back them and the police department,” Smith said.

Ingrid Longville brought her children to watch the procession. She echoed Amanda Smith’s reason: “We support the community and ‘back the Blue,’” Longville said. Although she did not know Officer Smith personally, he lived in her neighborhood. She moved to McDonough two years ago from New Jersey and felt safer in her new neighborhood knowing that a law enforcement officer lived there, as well.  She saw him coming and going from work and his family at the home.

“Although I did not know him personally, it is no less painful,” she said. “It was a good cause to bring the kids out to.”

Officer Smith responded to a call of an unruly person at a dentist’s office on Jonesboro Road in McDonough, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. A man, later identified as 53-year-old Dimaggio McNelly, entered the dentist’s office and acted erratically. He was not a patient of the dentist’s office. When McNelly became combative, Officer Smith deployed a taser, which was not effective in subduing McNelly. At some point, both officer Smith and McNelly struggled over the officer’s service weapon.  The weapon discharged a single time striking both Officer Smith and the suspect, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Natalie Ammons told reporters on the day of the shooting. The suspect died at the scene. Officer Smith was transported to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, where he had surgery and then transferred to a rehabilitation center.  Smith died from complications on December 28, 2018.

Officer Chase Maddox, the second law enforcement officer to be shot and killed in Henry County in 2018, responded to assist Henry County Sheriff’s Deputies serving an arrest warrant to a person who failed to appear in court for a traffic offense. The suspect shot both deputies and officer Maddox.

When asked his reaction to the deaths of two law enforcements officers in Henry County in 2018, Joseph Gordon said, “They serve and protect. It’s senseless.”

Longville said, “Something is not working. They need to do something about that.”

There was a 15% increase in firearms-related fatalities for law enforcement officers from 2017 – 2018, according to the Nation Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Officer Michael Smith is survived by his wife and three-year-old son.

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