Memorial Honors 'Courageous, Selfless' Slain San Diego Police Officer
Chief Zimmerman says De Guzman was "the best of us"
Grieving family members, law enforcement colleagues and political leaders gathered Friday to bid farewell to a "courageous, selfless" San Diego police officer killed last week in the line of duty.
Thousands of law enforcement personnel from around the state and nation crowded the chapel and grounds of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon in a show of somber respect for gang-enforcement Officer Jonathan "J.D." De Guzman, who died after being shot during a pedestrian stop in Southcrest late on the night of July 28. He was 43.
Despite De Guzman's ultimate sacrifice, the 16-year member of the San Diego Police Department "didn't become a hero last week," retired San Diego Police pastor Ben Harris told the mourners, among them Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
"He became a hero when he chose to live a life of safety and calmness and he stepped forward into his place on the thin blue line, protecting the citizens of San Diego," Pastor Harris said.
Describing a meeting with the slain officer's family last weekend, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said it was "easy to see how J.D. became the courageous, selfless man that we're honoring here today."
When De Guzman decided to seek a career in law enforcement, his loved ones thought he was "too nice" to be a police officer, the mayor told the crowd.
"It's what made J.D. the perfect officer — because he was a nice guy, because he cared," he said.
Faulconer told the assembly that everyone would do well to "follow J.D.'s example."
"We must never stop caring," he said. "We're going to keep strengthening the bonds between police officers and our communities. We're going to keep forging pathways to opportunities so we can end the cycle of violence. And we're never going to stop helping each other, because J.D. never stopped helping us."
San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who patted the slain officer's flag-draped coffin before addressing the crowd, praised De Guzman as a model member of her department — calling him "the best of us" — and "a wonderful, caring mentor, a friend to all."
De Guzman's former partner, Officer Cassie Ericson, also addressed the crowd.
"Everyday he came to work with a genuine fire inside of him that was inspiring to others," she said.
A motorcade of hundreds of law enforcement vehicles accompanied De Guzman's casket from Qualcomm Stadium to the East County church. Along the route, hundreds of spectators gathered to watch the procession, some waving American flags and signs bearing words of praise and respect.
De Guzman and his partner, Officer Wade Irwin, 32, came under fire moments after pulling over to talk to a man behaving suspiciously in a neighborhood just east of the intersection of Interstate 5 and state Route 15.
Five rounds struck De Guzman while he was still seated behind the wheel of his cruiser. Irwin suffered a serious but non-life-threatening wound.
The alleged assailant, 52-year-old Jesse Michael Gomez, was critically injured by Irwin's return fire and remains hospitalized.
On Tuesday, Gomez pleaded not guilty at UCSD Medical Center to charges of murder, attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm, and was ordered to remain in custody in lieu of $5 million bail. A special- circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer makes Gomez eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted.
Authorities have disclosed no suspected motive for the deadly shooting.
The San Diego Police Officers Association is collecting money for De Guzman's family. Donations can be mailed to the San Diego Police Officers Association, 8388 Vickers St., San Diego, CA 92111, or made online at sdpoa.org.
More than 102 ghost when the memorial service for Jonathan De Guzman this morning. Will the Olympics launch for that huge? And will give you plenty of good options for the weekend in our weekend preview. This is KPBS Midday Edition. It is Friday, August 5. Quite an amazing show support for Jonathan De Guzman today as law enforcement and the public are offering their respects . The casket was carried to the church in El Cajon. He was known as JD died last week after he was shot five times. One man is in custody and here is the mayor speaking at this morning's Memorial.'s Mike was a San Diego and when through. When he told his family that he wanted to be a police officer, some of them cannot believe it. It wasn't that they do not think he was brave enough or that he wasn't smart enough or strong enough he was all of those things and more. That was the mayor speaking at this morning's Memorial. Steve Walsh is on location. What can you tell us about the service this morning. I have just outside the ceremony right now, which is still going on. They have a ways to go. They will go through in his two children and wife are still speaking. We have not gotten there. the mood is somber although this is a well attended service. We had a procession that came from Qualcomm Stadium. Not everybody could get in. They have as many as 5000 people who are either inside the ceremony or in different rooms around the campus here at shadow mountain community charge. A number of people have come to pay their respects. I heard people were lining the overpasses and weaving out of their car windows to let the motorcade. What did you see when it arrived quick Again, we are seeing officers from around the country from Texas and Colorado in Chicago and New York. They said that some of them may have gotten lost in the way him -- in. The procession way on for a considerable amount of time. Before they got here they had this line of officers who saluted as the casket went by. It was a moving scene. Was spoken so far at the service and what have they said? We've had the Attorney General and the mayor Kevin Faulconer in as well as the commander of the SWAT unit or go will keep going all the way through to members of the family who have been kind of quiet. The ones that really struck me the most is Shelby Zimmerman who can be stage. She gave a eulogy where sometimes she was smiling and almost at a time of laughter. She had been one of his first Lieutenant when he joined the force back in 2000 and knew him well. She was -- he was stabbed during a traffic stop and she mention that he was so calm when he called that is that she don't realize how serious the incident was. She clearly knew him well and like Tim. That seems to be the theme through all of this. He will clearly be missed by this department. Let's listen to what she said this morning. He was known as a protector and a role model. When he was around you, you knew that you were in good hands. He would step in the harms way and not think twice. They were covering numerous firearms by making these stops and getting them off our streets. There was no doubt our communities safer in many lives have been saved. That was chief Zimmerman this morning and have you been able to talk with the Police Department to find out with the investigation stands? No, this has been all about the ceremony this morning. We haven't been able to get into the investigation. I don't think we well today. This is something that will keep following. We have one suspect that was in custody in arraigned at the hospital. One touching thing early on the chaplain mentioned that he thinks all of the officers who came when they heard the call and police code 1099 means officer need help. He was it was like the world had arrived at the same. Thank you so much for bringing us on the same. He will be laid to rest later today.
SDPOA officials asked donors to include "Officer Jonathan De Guzman" in the notes of the online donation or on the memo lines of their checks.
Prospective donors can also text "DeGuzman" to 41444 for a response with a link to the SDPOA charity's page.
Contributions to aid in Irwin's recovery expenses can be made at gofundme.com/irwinfamilyfund. As of Friday evening, it had raised almost $32,000.