In a time of deep tension and divide between communities and police across the nation, one San Diego officer’s life continues to serve as an important example of how both sides can unite.
In early August 2011, San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Officer Jeremy Henwood was critically shot while patrolling in City Heights. Dejon Marquee, a 23-year-old man with a death wish, pulled up alongside the officer’s patrol car and opened fire in the deadly, unprovoked attack.
Moments before Henwood was shot, the officer had stopped to eat at a McDonald’s on Fairmount Avenue. There, the officer noticed a boy who was hungry and short on change. In his final act of kindness before his death, Henwood bought cookies for the boy. The two shared a smile and some small talk, and Henwood told the boy to work hard. The tender moment was caught on surveillance tape and is remembered by many San Diegans.
More than five years have passed since Henwood, also a U.S. Marine who completed three tours of service in the Middle East, was killed in the line of duty. If he were alive today, he’d be just 42 years old.
On Saturday – in the heart of the community he served – friends, co-workers and even people who never met Henwood gathered to celebrate his life at the 5th Annual Jeremy Henwood Memorial Walk and Run around Chollas Lake.
“He cared about the community. He went out there every single day and wanted to make a positive difference,” SDPD Lt. Jeff Jordan told NBC 7 on Saturday, remembering his colleague.
Jordan, who responded to the scene of Henwood’s shooting that tragic day, said that at a time of heavy scrutiny for police officers around the nation – especially in inner cities – Henwood’s legacy, and that act of kindness reflective of how he lived his life, sets the bar.
“You know, when we ask our people to exhibit patience and understanding and go out to really make a difference for all those we serve – Jeremy lived that, he epitomized that," said Jordan.
The lieutenant said getting together for the memorial walk for Henwood every year is an important reminder for those in the police department.
“He kind of encourages us to go out there, take a moment, pause, engage in dialogue, because the more we know one another, the more we're committed to one another,” said Jordan. “The more we understand each other, the better we can make this community.”
Proceeds from Saturday’s event went to the Police Memorial Fund for fallen officers.
Today, a park named after Henwood stands in City Heights, dedicated to the slain officer's life of service.