|LAPD mortorcycle officers’ procession heads towards Holy Cross Cemetery. –Photo by Ian Foxx|
10,000 honor Officer Randal D. Simmons during day-long service
Thousands of people paid their final respects Feb. 15 to Los Angeles Police Officer Randy Simmons, the first member of the city’s elite Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) slain in the line of duty. Nearly 10,000 filled the Crenshaw Christian Center’s Faith Dome for the funeral service, which was followed by a procession to Holy Cross Cemetery, and thousands more observed from their television sets as stations broadcast the day’s unfoldings live and uninterrupted.
The program read “A Celebration of Life and Legacy of Officer Randal D. Simmons,” and that’s just what it was. From scripture readings to song selections to remarks by grief-stricken family members, friends and colleagues, every word spoken of Simmons was a testament to his open and gracious heart as a family man, religious man and police man.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa remembered Simmons for his incredible dedication to the city of Los Angeles, stating that in loosing him the city really looses a small piece of itself and the idea of what ‘community’ is really all about. He added, “I’m proud to be mayor of a city that bears as a permanent feature the footprints of this giant of a man.”
Police Chief William Bratton also spoke of Simmons’ giant-like stature when he touched upon his great devotion to the police force. “Randy [Simmons] was given the opportunity to make a difference, to make his life as a cop count for something, and he succeeded far beyond even his own dreams and expectations,” he said. Then added, “It is said no man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child. If that’s so, then Randy was truly a giant.”
Long-time friend Dr. Basil Kimbrew, who played football with Simmons while at Washington State, spoke of Simmons’ unselfish nature, noting that “Randy was the type of man who always gave.”
It was during a life reflections montage that the 10,000 mourners saw snippets of Simmons’ life, both his public side and private side, that included pictures of him with wife Lisa, son Matthew and daughter Gabrielle and a video of his work as a minister.
The tribute was followed by more heartfelt remarks from Patrick Davis of Glory Kids, who noted that Simmons lived for three reasons: Jesus Christ, his family, and the children of Los Angeles; fellow-officer James Hart, who affectionately referred to Simmons as “Reverend;” along with Melinda Harleaux, Sharon “Cookie” Sumlin and Wilfred Sumlin, who spoke of their brother-in-law’s love for his family.
Sister Gina Davis remembered her brother as a “protector” because “that’s what God called him to be.” She added, “I realized what that meant to me in my personal life…to have a brother who’s strong in stature and to the assurance to know he was always there for you.”
Son Matthew named his “daddy” his “special icon in his life” before breaking down in tears. Then continued, “…my father was a very loving, caring, spiritual and beautiful man. He was very wonderful to our entire family, and he had a big impact on us. He taught me very important lessons in life.” One such lesson, he noted, was to pray to God everyday and talk to him, which was the first thing, and the last, they as a family the day Simmons was killed.
He added, “I love my daddy with all my heart and soul. He’s the best father any child could have. He did every thing he could possibly do on this earth, such as teaching people about the word of God, helping in different communities, and being a spectacular father to me. I miss him so much but I’m sure that he is still watching me all the time.
“…I love you dad, and I’ll see you in heaven.”
The three-hour service also included a rendition of “Can’t Give Up Now” from gospel duo Mary Mary and closing remarks with an obituary by Gregory Mays and Eulogy by Pastor Alton Trimble. Nearly 10,000 mourners then proceeded to Holy Cross Cemetery where Simmons was laid to rest. There, son Matthew was given the American flag that had draped his father’s casket; daughter Gabrielle was given a wooden box that would soon encase the folded flag; wife Lisa was handed a cross and a rose that adorned her husband’s casket; and mother Constance was given the state’s flag.