Caisson for slain Eastman Police Officer Tim Smith
From the time he was a child growing up on small rural farm in Bacon County, Tim Kevin Smith knew he wanted to be a cop.
“Everything that boy done revolved around being a police officer,” Chris Rogers said during his cousin’s funeral Thursday afternoon. “I don’t think he would have had it any other way.”
Smith, nicknamed “Turtle,” was fatally shot on the job Saturday night, just two days shy of his 31st birthday.
Smith responded to a call about a suspicious person with a gun and was reportedly shot by 24-year-old Royheem Delshawn Deeds. Early Monday morning, Deeds was found hiding in the trunk of his sister’s car in Nassau County, Florida, where he was arrested and charged with murder.
Family, friends and co-workers of Smith were among hundreds of officers from law enforcement agencies around the state and country. Nearly every seat was occupied in the Dodge County High School gym for Smith’s funeral Thursday afternoon. Paper fans and bottled water were distributed to accommodate the crowd.
For a little more than five years, Smith had been following in the footsteps of his grandfather as well as his father, Lewis Smith, a Glenwood police officer who has been in law enforcement 29 years.
A father to three children, Tim Smith had recently become engaged to Chelsea Clark, who manages a Flash Foods store in town.
Cries from their 5-month-old baby pierced the silent crowd as Smith’s casket was closed for the final time.
“Tim was the type of guy that if he loved you, he would hardly tell you, but he would show it with his actions,” said Rogers, Tim Smith’s cousin. “Chelsea, you’ll never know how much that boy loves you. That boy knew his hours were limited in the back of that ambulance … He kept saying, ‘Tell Chelsea I love her.’ ”
While Smith took his job seriously, Rogers said Smith was far from a serious person.
“Tim was a jokester,” Rogers said. “He was never really serious about anything.”
Among memories of sitting on the couch watching “COPS” and hunting together, Rogers recalled an incident in which Smith had used a Taser on the job while dealing with a combative person who kept kicking his patrol car.
“You keep kicking this door and they’re going to call you ‘Sparky’ … because I’m going to light you up,” Rogers said with a chuckle as he recalled Smith’s comments.
Pastor Dahl McDermitt Jr., who runs the Refuge Recovery Ministry in town, said Smith was a family man who would “much rather help somebody than lock them up.”
Law enforcement agencies in Bibb, Putnam, Baldwin, Pulaski, Oconee, Laurens and many other counties stood at attention as Smith’s body was taken from the gym.
The North Carolina Troopers Association Caisson Unit traveled to town to carry Smith’s body on a horse-drawn caisson from the high school.
Several officers from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office also attended, witnessing Smith’s body being carried by the same unit that took Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Norris’ body through the courthouse square of Forsyth on Sept. 19, 2014.
A caravan of blue lights zoomed down Pearl Bates Avenue toward Greenlawn Cemetery as Smith’s body was transported in a hearse.
LaToya McClinton, 33, said Smith had pulled her over for speeding about a month and a half ago.
“He’s like ‘slow down now. You know I’m supposed to write you up.’ ” McClinton said. “He always had a little smile or smirk, you know. … I told him my air conditioning was broken and he told me to go get that fixed. He gave me a warning.”
A day before burying his son, Smith’s father, Lewis Smith, 56, said his son never knew he had touched “as many people’s lives as he had with the thousands of people that have come out to support him.”
The family was emotionally raw dealing with their loss, Smith said.
“There’s a certain amount of anger, but not overwhelmingly,” he said. “It’s more being heartbroken than anything, knowing I’ll never be able to see him again.”