In four words, Toledo, Ohio Police Chief George Kral summed up the sacrifice made by officer Anthony Dia: “He died protecting Toledo.”
Yes, he did. Those words speak powerfully to who he is. It’s Dia’s last words, however, that should tell you just what the loss of another officer means:
“Tell my family I loved them.”
Dia died on the Fourth of July when he was shot while checking on an intoxicated man in a Home Depot parking lot, according to Fox News. He spoke his last words over police radio after he was hit.
When the 26-year-old officer “approached the male to check his safety,” the suspect began walking away, according to witness accounts.
According to Shalene Houke, who saw the shooting happen, Officer Dia asked the man to stop.
He kept walking, however, and Dia followed him behind the store’s plant racks. Then the suspect turned around, shooting at him. Dia returned fire, but he was hit.
Houke, along with a friend, rushed to help the officer.
“He was young, and he was scared,” Houke told the Toledo Blade.
Dia slipped into unconsciousness while Houke watched.
“He bled out, pretty much. They did what they could with lifesaving measures, but there was nothing they could do,” Jayme Dia, the officer’s wife, said.
Dia left a gut-wrenching message for his family, according to his wife: “The last thing he said over the radio was, ‘Tell my family I love them.’”
“He lived for his family, and he loved, just loved, being a police officer,” she said.
The accused murderer, 57-year-old Edward Henry, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after running into a forest area. He had three bench warrants out for an incident last August in which he allegedly exposed himself to a woman and threatened her to keep her from calling police.
Dia wasn’t just a family man who died for Toledo; he also brought a unique perspective to the Toledo police.
“He had such a passion for it, and he cared. He really cared,” said family friend Barbie Rudess. “With him being Muslim, he experienced some tough times, but he loved all. It did not matter what race, what anything. He just loved all and loved everyone.”
“He was not only therefore one of Toledo’s bravest and best police officers, he’s also someone who contributes to the diversity that makes our country and our city so great,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said.
The mayor added that “to my dying day, I will never forget the sight of Officer Dia being wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney, his body wrapped in an American flag, flanked by about 30 Toledo police officers saluting and weeping.”
“It is our nation’s birthday,” the mayor said. “And our nation’s motto is, ‘E pluribus unum.’ From many, come one. We live in divided times. We must come together as one. We are one human family, one American family, and one Toledo family. And today our family is in mourning due to the loss of one of our family members.”
Officer Dia is the kind of man you want your children to emulate, allegedly killed by a man who was everything we should condemning.
There were plenty of officeholders willing to sing his praises. But where was the outrage beyond that? Where were the celebrations of a short life well lived, of a man who left behind two young children and a wife?
— Megan O’Rourke (@Megan247Now) July 7, 2020
Dia is unpopular right now because police are unpopular right now. Nobody particularly hates a dead cop, but they just shrug aimlessly.
A policeman as a hero? The horrors.
But we’re willing to portray them as cold-blooded killers, usually killers who prey upon unarmed minorities for sport.
Yet this is who the police are. We can point to Dia as a man who was an exemplar of what a police officer should be. He was a man who took on a great responsibility and died so that the citizens of Toledo could be safe.
“My son died a hero,” said his father, Younes “Tony” Dia, according to WTOL-TV.
“And if he was given a choice, ‘Hey, do you want to die in bed sick, do you want to die in a car accident, or do you want to die like this — a martyr — Anthony would choose this box. One hundred percent. He wouldn’t want to go out any other way.”
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