Originally published August 15, 2011 at 12:18 p.m., updated August 16, 2011 at 4:52 p.m.
Slain mid-city officer, Jeremy Henwood, has been described as a hero with a personality that commanded the room and a confidence that intimidated even veteran officers. But it was his gentle kindness that has captured mourners.
At a candlelight vigil Thursday and Henwood’s funeral Friday, San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne recounted one of Henwoods final deeds before being fatally shot in City Heights Aug. 6.
Just before being wounded on University Avenue, Henwood stopped at a McDonald’s for food. Surveillance tape shows a young boy looking from a palm filled with coins up to Henwood.
“He was pretty tall,” said Daveon Tinsley, the boy on the tape. “He held his gun holster like he was ready for anything.”
Tinsley, 13, said he asked Henwood for 10 cents to buy a cookie. Henwood bought two to split with the boy. As they ate, Henwood asked Tinsley about his future goals.
“He told me, ‘Hard work in life will do you well,’” said Tinsley, who wants to become an NBA star.
Tinsley joined friends from the City Heights Recreation Center at a candlelight vigil Thursday to pass out candles and learn more about the officer he says impressed him.
Henwood, 36, was a decorated Marine Corps Reserves captain who served three tours of duty. Fellow officer and friend Riter Flores said Henwood brought tireless energy to his work and was committed to the Mid-City Division, choosing to patrol City Heights when he returned from Afghanistan this year.
“I know Jeremy would have done the job for free,” Flores said.
Thursday’s vigil was a testament to that commitment. About 1,000 residents gathered at the City Heights Performance Annex to hear poems, letters and music prepared by area youth. Organizer Dana Brown said the event was an important step in healing as a family—that family being comprised of residents and police officers alike.
Landsdowne and Capt. Todd Jarvis expressed thanks for the relationship community members have built with the department since the City Heights Substation opened in 1996.
“Let’s take the feelings here tonight as we come together as a community, and allow them to galvanize an already very unique bond between the community and heroic officers who drive through those gates every day,” Jarvis said.
“God bless you for making this moment for all of us,” Landsdowne told mourners. “God bless you for being Mid-City, the best division in the city.
Thousands of flames flickered across the park that night as validation of the work officers have done to connect with residents living in such a diverse and active patrol—work like the time Henwood spent with Tinsley.
“He was the nicest cop I ever met in my life,” Tinsley said. “After that, I feel like I can approach any officer.”