Thousands attend funeral to honor Texas deputy killed in ambush shooting

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 04, 2015 12:48 PM

By Dennis Spellman

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Thousands attended the Houston funeral of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth on Friday in a ceremony that gathered law enforcement officers from across the state and is being used to show Texas' appreciation of its police.

Goforth, 47, was fatally shot on Aug. 28 as he fueled a patrol car at a Houston-area gas station in a case the Harris County sheriff has tied to the "Black Lives Matter," campaign against police violence.

Hundreds of cars from police, deputies and emergency workers lined the roads while an honor guard stood near his casket at the Second Baptist Church. Music from bagpipes filled the air for the deputy, who is survived by a wife and two children.

"It is at a time like this that I understand that what happens to that badge not only affects one, but it affects all of us," Lieutenant Don Savell of the Harris County Sheriff's Office said at the funeral.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has asked for flags to be flown at half-staff on Friday and law enforcement officers across the state to turned on their red and blue lights for a minute at 11 a.m. local time, when the funeral began.

"Texans across the state are uniting in support of Deputy Goforth and every law enforcement officer who puts their life on the line each day in order to keep Texas safe and strong," Abbott said on Thursday.

Honor guard members from the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff's Office joined forces for a ceremony expected to include flyovers by law-enforcement aircraft.

Shannon Miles, 30, has been charged in the case with capital murder, a crime that can bring the death penalty. He is accused of emptying a 15-round handgun into Goforth's back and head in an ambush-style attack, prosecutors said.

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Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman has linked the shooting to anti-police rhetoric that has been used in recent public demonstrations around the United States decrying the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers. Goforth was white and the suspect is black.

Miles spent four months in a mental hospital in 2012 after being declared incompetent to stand trial in an aggravated assault case, court documents showed.

A social media campaign has also been launched asking people to wear blue in honor of Goforth.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz, editing by G Crosse)