Community Mourns Fallen Police Officers

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- Hundreds of people gathered at the Kansas Expocentre Saturday morning to celebrate the life of Topeka Police CPL. David Gogian, who was gunned down in the line of duty last Sunday.

Services for OFC. Jeff Atherly, also killed in the line of duty Sunday, were held Saturday afternoon.

340 police officers and civilian personnel were on hand to pay their final respects to both public servants.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Topeka City Manager Jim Colson, and Police Chief Ron Miller were among officials who spoke during services for both fallen officers.

Chief of Police Ron Miller said of Gogian:

"The American flag stands vigilant witness to every military and first responder funeral in the United States of America. Today it symbolically shields and protects Corporal David Gogian and Officer Jeff Atherly. David knew the commitment to preserve, protect and defend the United States of America."

Governor Brownback assured those mourning that they are not alone in their time of need.

"I hope you can accept the sorrow of the state, the people of Kansas. They mourn with you. They're sorry for you and they will not forget these two great men," Brownback said.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt spoke of Gogian's service.

"He gave his life in loving service to the community, responding to a report of suspicious activity. He died as a protector to us all," Schmidt said. "We are so very sorry for your loss. We hope you can find comfort in knowing that so many people are lifting you up in thoughts and prayers. What happened that one brief senseless moment will remain with all of us as a scar upon our hearts and our history."

David Gogian's son, Officer Brandon Gogian spoke, holding back tears.

"Dad treated the community like he did his family, with respect and genuine concern," Brandon said. "My father's death will not be in vain as long as we honor him by returning to the streets harder than ever in making the city a safer place. Together we stand tall, side-by-side and never back down. We will persevere and we will survive."

Sergeant John Trimble talked about all the good times spent with Gogian. Trimble said Gogian always called him "bro."

"To Dave up in heaven, thank you for being my friend, but most importantly, thank you for being my bro."

The law enforcement community also turned out in force for Officer Jeff Atherly's funeral. He was only 29 years old when he was killed in the line of duty. Dignitaries from Gov. Brownback to Attorney General Derek Schmidt paid tribute to his legacy as a protector.

"The state was stopped in its tracks the day these, this tragedy happened, when Dave and Jeff were killed," Brownback said. "Please accept our sympathy, our sorrow, they will not be forgotten," he told the families. "They've paid an ultimate sacrifice of laying down their lives for somebody else's good [...] and we're deeply appreciative," he said.

"I want to thank the family for allowing Jeff to serve. It takes a special kind of person and a special kind of family to do this type of work. It's hard work, it's dangerous work. But without it, you don't have an orderly society," he said.

Schmidt spoke of Atherly's lighter side. "His family knows, but many here may not, that before becoming a police officer, Jeff had been a youthful musician, a singer and an actor, even tried his hands as a DJ," he said. "His occasional whimsy and that smile came with him to the police department where Jeff served with enthusiasm."

Friends talked about Atherly always willing to lend a hand.

"He would drop everything at a moment's notice to help a friend in need," Mark Debacker said. "When it truly mattered, he was there."

Chief Miller said Atherly had wanted to be an officer since he was five years old, despite the risks. "He too knew the risks of American law enforcement, because foolish people sometimes do things that we cannot forsee. He made the ultimate sacrifice, did what he had to do, and I suspect, given the opportunity, he'd probably tell us he'd do it again, especially if he thought he was protecting his fellow officers."

Watch video clips of Saturday's services above


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