Slain police officer Eric Talley’s life celebrated in public funeral

(CNN) — Officer Eric Talley is being remembered at a public funeral in Lafayette, Colorado, on Tuesday — one week after giving his life as the first police officer to arrive at the King Soopers store where a gunman killed 10 people.

A brief procession and motorcade preceded the memorial service at Flatirons Community Church for the fallen Boulder police officer and father of seven who was known as a prankster who loved “family more than anything,” in the words of his father, Homer.

Along the route, Coloradans and visitors from other states have gathered, bundled against temperatures in the lows 30s, some waving American flags and saluting under cloudy skies, according to news footage.

“There are not enough people supporting our our officers,” Angela Stephens, who flew from Kansas City to pay her respects, told CNN affiliate KMGH. “We all need them. We need the police. ”

Holding an American flag, Stephens added, “I wouldn’t miss this for anything.”

Talley had been a Boulder police officer since 2010.

When the call came a week ago Monday about a man wielding a weapon at the grocery store, the 51-year-old Talley was the first officer on the scene. And he was the final person shot in the rampage, according to police. Talley and nine other people were killed when police say suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa opened fire at the crowded King Soopers store.

President Biden last week offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the Boulder shooting, and singled out Talley’s heroism.

“I commend the exceptional bravery of Officer Eric Talley,” he said. “I send my deepest condolences to his family. His close, close family of seven children. You know, when he pinned on that badge yesterday morning he didn’t know what the day would bring. I want everybody to think about this.”

The President added, “But when the moment to act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That’s the definition of an American hero.”

No one, other than Talley, was shot once he and other officers started engaging the gunman at the King Soopers store after witnesses called 911, Boulder police said.

Talley was “willing to die to protect others” and embodied “everything policing deserves and needs,” Police Chief Maris Herold said.

Talley and his family were in the police chief’s office about three weeks ago as one of his sons accepted an award.

The officer had taught his family CPR, and his son used that skill to help save a family member who had swallowed a quarter, Herold said.

Talley was the first Boulder police officer to be killed in the line of duty since 1994 and the sixth on-duty death in the department’s history, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Last Wednesday, hundreds of Coloradans lined the streets as a hearse transported Talley’s body from the coroner’s office to a funeral home in Aurora. Many placed their hands over their hearts and some held American flags. Public safety vehicles joined the long procession.

Talley’s patrol vehicle, which was parked in front of the police station last week, became a shrine as mourners left flowers, wreaths, cards and other mementos in his honor.

Boulder Police last week used Talley’s handcuffs to formally place the shooting suspect into custody, police said in a tweet Thursday.

“This week several Boulder Police officers & others responded to a local hospital to formally place Monday’s shooting suspect into custody,” police said in the tweet. “As they did, officers informed him the handcuffs used that day were those of Officer Eric Talley. The suspect was then taken to jail.”

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