In an outpouring of support, over 3,500 mourners gathered at Grace Community Church in southeast Houston on Friday, May 22, 2015 to honor Houston Police Officer Richard Keith Martin. Martin, 47, a four year veteran of HPD, was killed in the line of duty May 18 as he was putting down spikes to stop a fleeing suspect. Felon Jeffery Collin intentionally ran over Martin while leading a police chase, and subsequently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Martin was a four year veteran of the United States Air Force, and had worked for two decades in private industry before fulfilling his life-long dream of becoming a police officer. Martin graduated 6th in his class in 2010 and rapidly rose through the ranks to Field Training Instructor assigned to the Westside Command Station. HPD reports he was the 113th Houston officer to die in the line of duty sine 1860, and in keeping with tradition, his badge number is now retired.
In a tearful message, Martin’s daughter Cynthia, 22, called her dad “my superman”. Son Tyler, 11, in an emotional letter read by HPD Chaplain Monty Montgomery told his dad that he would follow in his footsteps to become a police officer , reminding dad that, “You are my hero,” and “I will see you again. “
Houston Mayor Anise Parker paid tribute to the fallen officer, reiterating what a debt of gratitude is owed to HPD officers for their sacrifice and service. Fellow Westside Patrol Division Officer Xavier Flores remembered Martin as a role model, a team leader, an enthusiastic and dedicated colleague who, ”stood alone and acted in a selfless act of bravery.”
Grace Community Church pastor Garrett Booth worked cooperatively with Bishop Greg Robertson of the Westlake Ward, Houston, Texas, Bear Creek Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the family’s request to honor the fallen officer. Booth welcomed mourners with the assurance that, “We are grateful for all of you.” Robertson conducted the funeral proceedings. “This has been one of the most touching meetings I have ever been a part of. It’s overwhelming the graciousness of Grace Community Church in providing the facility. It has been a tremendous opportunity of a community coming together. I am humbled and grateful to contribute a small part,” Robertson said.
Many of the 1,000 officers attending the funeral services were from all over the United States. Juan Goli is a member of Brotherhood for the Fallen, a non-for-profit organization of Chicago Police Officers of various ranks, committed to attending the services of officers killed around the country by an offender and to give support to the Family, their police department and their community. “I feel it is very important to come and pay our respects to those who have given their lives and sacrificed for the people.”Goli said.
Officer McLain from West Deptford, New Jersey said, “We never know when it’s going to be one of us. This is something we are dedicated to. I used my own time, 16 hours of vacation time to come out. It is an honor to be here.”
Steve Strassheim from Corpus Christi, Texas summed up the shared sentiment. “It’s our honor to bid him (Martin) farewell. It is a Brotherhood and Sisterhood and we all stand together no matter what,” he said.
Neil Rackleff with the City of Houston, and also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “We are incredibly grateful for the service of Officer Martin.” “These brave men and women are in the background often, but it is appropriate that we put them in the foreground in an event such as this. This is a wonderful tribute to a great man and a great hero,” Rackleff said.
On Sunday, May 24, Officer Martin was buried in Wanette, Oklahoma in a private ceremony.
Linda Talbot contributed to this article.