Thousands Bid Farewell to Slain Oakland Officers | NBC New York

Thousands Bid Farewell to Slain Oakland Officers

Arena filled to capacity



    Thousands of mourners gathered with the families of four slain Oakland police officers for a joint funeral that drew law officers from around the world.

    More than 18,000 people gathered at Oracle Arena in Oakland for a funeral for four local police officers who were fatally shot a week ago.

    Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy; Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville; Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley; and Officer John Hege, 41, of Concord, were honored during the memorial.

    There was not enough room in the arena to accommodate all of the attendees, according to Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason, who said the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum nearby was being used for the overflow crowd.

    California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who formally served as Oakland's mayor, said "you can't find four more honorable people" than the four officers, and said they were "ready to die for what is right."

    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the officers "were among the best to ever wear the badge of the Oakland Police Department" and said "they died in the cause of their efforts to remove a dangerous criminal from the streets."

    The officers' coffins, draped in American flags, were brought in the arena's north entrance one-by-one, with each hearse receiving a motorcycle escort by police while their colleagues stood at attention and saluted the fallen men.

    Father Jayson Landeza of St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland, the master of ceremonies, read aloud a letter from President Obama in which he said of the officers, "Their commitment to their fellow man will never be forgotten."

    Obama said, "I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of these officers. Michelle and I hold their families in our hearts and prayers."

    Police say the officers were killed by 26-year-old Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, an ex-felon who was wanted on a no-bail warrant for allegedly violating his parole by failing to meet with his parole officer.

    Mixon was killed at the end of his confrontation with police.

    Acting Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan spoke at the ceremony, saying "we wonder how is it possible that this could have happened," and that "we remember our fallen comrades for their smiles, their personalities ... and their time with us."

    Thomason said law enforcement officers from throughout the nation, as well as from foreign countries, are in the city to pay tribute to the fallen officers.

    Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officer's Association, said the turnout is "unbelievable."

    Delagnes said an estimated 15,000 police officers were here from around the country, and that the 8,000 seats set aside in the arena for police had filled up long before the ceremony began.

    Delagnes said between 400 and 500 San Francisco police officers, or roughly a quarter of the department's workforce, were attending the funeral.

    "We're happy to be a part of this and we can all feel like we're one family," he said.

    Outside agencies were policing Oakland to free up local officers for the funeral.

    The Alameda County Sheriff's Office took the lead in that effort, assisted by the California Highway Patrol and police from Berkeley, San Leandro and the East Bay Regional Park District.

    CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said the agency allowed trucks to drive on Interstate Highway 580 to alleviate traffic near the funeral.