A slain San Diego police officer revered as a hero was immortalized Thursday when local leaders, law enforcement and his family dedicated a park in City Heights in his honor.
SDPD Officer Jeremy Henwood was fatally shot in the line of duty on Aug. 7, 2011, and died shortly thereafter.
Two-and-a-half years later, a park at the City Heights Urban Village square has been named the “Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park.” The park faces the Mid-City substation where Henwood worked, and will serve as a permanent reminder of his dedication, courage and sacrifice.
San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald led Thursday’s emotional dedication ceremony, attended by SDPD officers, as well as Henwood’s parents and sister.
“Jeremy Henwood was universally respected by his colleagues and the people here in City Heights. He was well-loved,” said Emerald. “He cared deeply about his career in law enforcement and was dedicated to serving and protecting our neighborhoods. He held great promise of becoming a leader in San Diego law enforcement.”
SDPD Chief William Lansdowne said Henwood was a beloved and unforgettable police officer, as well as a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He said the park is a perfect reminder of Henwood’s heroism.
“This is a person who wanted to make a difference. This is a person that joined the Marine Corps and served his country and was deployed on several occasions. This is a person that joined the San Diego Police Department because he clearly understood that what he did made a difference,” said Chief Lansdowne.
A representative from the Marine Corps said he’s proud to call Henwood a veteran, and proud to see his legacy immortalized in the park.
“He epitomizes the word ‘character.’ I think that what this park does, for those that will pass it every day, will be to remember that word and what he stood for as a role model for all. It’s a great privilege that this memory will always be part of this city,” said the Marine.
The park dedication also included some words from Henwood’s loved ones. His father and sister both thanked the community for the outpouring of love and support over the years. Between tears, Henwood’s mother then also took a few moments to remember her son.
“I miss him terribly, as his mother. It’s just not supposed to go this way, when a child dies before the parents,” Mrs. Henwood said. “In Jeremy’s case, this whole two-and-a-half years has made us realize that we never really knew how committed, kind, generous and loyal, and such a wonderful human being, that he really was. He fought hard. He took care of his men in Afghanistan and was extremely proud of the fact that he did not lose one man on the frontlines. We miss him. I feel he has established a legacy.”
Henwood’s mother said her son always knew he wanted to serve and protect, in some capacity.
“He was a Marine forever. He knew what path he was on. I truly will always remember my son for knowing what he wanted to do, which was protect this community. He loved living here,” she added, through tears.
Henwood was shot while sitting in his patrol car in City Heights.
Suspect Dejon Marquee pulled up alongside Henwood’s vehicle and fatally shot the officer in an unprovoked attack. Marquee was later killed in a shootout with police officers outside his City Heights apartment.
Henwood died from injuries sustained in the attack.
San Diegans may remember Officer Henwood from a surveillance video captured just moments before his death at a McDonald’s restaurant on Fairmont Avenue. In the famous footage, the officer is seen buying food for a hungry child that he had never met.
The video has been described as a random act of kindness by a man that members of the San Diego community consider a hero.
In addition to his time as on the police force, Officer Henwood was also a Marine Reservist who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The killing of Officer Henwood took a piece out of all of us. He died doing his job. He made all of us feel safer,” said Emerald on Thursday. “His simple act of kindness touched all of our hearts. Officer Henwood was a good and generous man to the end. [This park is a] thank you for all that he was and all that he continues to be in the hearts and minds of all of us here in Mid-City.”