Perhaps it shouldn’t be true, but we have expectations when it comes to received kindness. We think certain people ought to act in a gracious way toward us.
Family, friends, co-workers — we believe that these individuals should behave kindly when circumstances get difficult. We don’t tend to feel the same, though, about strangers and personal enemies and, say, the criminally convicted.
Yet sometimes those very folks act in surprisingly nice ways. In fact, that’s exactly what ended up happening in Georgia when a police officer perished in the line of duty.
According to CBS News, Gwinnett County Police Officer Antwan Toney was with another officer when he responded to a call on Oct. 20. The call had reported a suspicious car near a Snellville, Georgia, middle school.
When Toney and the other officer arrived and began to approach the vehicle, shots rang out. Toney fell, fatally wounded.
As he lay dying, the suspects raced away, only to crash their car. There were two of them, and they fled the area on foot.
The incident was far from over, though. U.S. Marshals secured one of the suspects, a man named Isaiah Pretlow.
However, the second suspect, Tafahree Maynard, resisted when confronted by police. Nearly 100 officers had cordoned off the surrounding area, and they eventually discovered Maynard in a backyard shed.
They tried to incapacitate him with a Taser. But when he was only six-or-so feet away, the officers saw that he was brandishing a lawnmower blade and shot him.
A sad story, one that saw expressions of grief over Toney’s death pour forth from every corner. Toney’s former employers, the Orange Police Department, wrote on Facebook, “Officer Toney began his law enforcement career in 2006 with the City of Orange where he was a beloved part of the Orange Police Explorer Program.
“Please keep Officer Toney’s family, friends, and co-workers in your prayers.” The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office also commented on Facebook. “Our community has made it abundantly clear that they share our heartache at the loss of Gwinnett County Police Department’s Officer Antwan Toney, who gave his life in the service of others three weeks ago today.
“We’ve never seen a greater show of community support than we did as Officer Toney’s family led the procession following his memorial service. Amazing citizens lined the streets for miles and miles.”
Yet perhaps the most surprising show of support came from 20 inmates incarcerated at the Gwinnett County Detention Center. According to CBS News, it read, “Though law enforcement and criminals may be considered opposites, the intrinsic value of a human life transcends those boundaries by far.
“Right is right and wrong is wrong. No matter the color uniform.
“It is from this standpoint, in a spirit of gratitude and utmost respect that I submit this letter to honor all police officers, military personell (sic), and first responders. Your service and sacrifice make the world a better place for all. Thank you.”
An amazing tribute, one that highlights a fact that is so easy to overlook. Even those who sin in the most egregious ways are made in the image of God and capable of extending a humbling kind of grace.
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