Dori: King County deputy speaks out after being told to ‘stand down’ from honoring fallen officer
Earlier today, surrounded by his grief-stricken family and loved ones – but not the King County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard – Deputy Ryan Gallemore was laid to rest.
Prevented by King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht from participating in the service, KCSO Deputy and 10-year Honor Guard member Jesse Herrera came on my show this afternoon to describe why the sheriff’s move not only makes no sense, but “it hurts.”
It all started shortly after Gallemore’s passing from COVID-19 on Oct. 22. Even though the Honor Guard was “ready to go,” Herrera told my listeners, “we were asked to stand down.”
“Dori, I wish I had the answer for that,” Herrera shared. “It was devastating, not only to the three of us [KCSO Honor Guard members], but the Gallemore family.”
According to the Washington Post, nearly 500 officers around the country have died from complications arising from COVID-19 over the past year. Without certainty regarding where they contracted COVID, all of these officers’ deaths have been attributed as line-of-duty losses.
Why not Gallemore – a husband and father of four?
Herrera – who has since learned that Johanknecht’s office is investigating him and two fellow Honor Guards – felt a personal and professional responsibility to perform “casket watch,” a tradition for fallen officers to stand sentry while friends and family come to the funeral home to grieve. Despite the sheriff’s refusal to authorize this duty, Herrera used his own time to perform this tradition for Gallemore and his family.
Today, because a KCSO Honor Guard was not authorized at Gallemore’s funeral, Herrera offered security to the family at their home. Another agency not under Johanknecht’s command did attend and assisted with Honor duties.
Could speaking out like this get Herrera in trouble, or perhaps even get him fired?
“He (Gallemore) deserves to be honored — that is why I’m sharing this,” Herrera said. “Ryan was a good cop.”
As a 20-year law enforcement officer, Herrera says he felt he had to “do the right thing” by exposing this story.
“There are a lot of people in this department who won’t come forward because they feel like they’re walking on eggshells,” he said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes down. This weighs heavy on my shoulders. It’s not right. It’s just not right.”
Hear my whole interview with Jesse Herrera below:
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