Services held for slain Topeka officer - KCTV5 News


Services held for slain Topeka officer

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A Topeka law enforcement officer will be laid to rest Saturday, nearly a week after he was killed during a car stop.

Cpl. Jason Harwood lies in state from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday in Exhibition Hall at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka ahead of his funeral Saturday morning. The path into the Kansas Expocentre is lined with flags in honor of Harwood and inside dozens of wreaths and floral arrangements surround him as people pay their respects.

"I just came here to pay my respects for what he does for our community and really what all law enforcement officers do to help us," said Topeka resident Scott Sewell. "It's a loss to our community, it's a loss to the Topeka Police Department and I just feel for his family and friends that knew him well."

A photo montage remembered him as a family man: a son raised in southwest Kansas, a husband married 20 years and a father of two boys, now 9 and 11 years old.

"This is too many. I've been to some others. I was involved in one that happened in Atchison a couple of years ago. These things shouldn't happen," said William Delaney who is retired from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

"Law enforcement is a family. We support each other and when the police officers put their uniform on, they go out to protect people and it's just too many are happening," said Terry Morgan, who is also retired from the KBI.

Many of the police photos were from the time Harwood served as Topeka's K-9 officer, a role fellow members of law enforcement say he took tremendous pleasure in.

"He could walk into roll call, walk into other rooms and take control of it with a smile, he was always happy and always jovial, just got along with everybody," said Shawnee County Sheriff Cpl. Steve Evans.

The first two hours of the visitation were open to law enforcement only and then it became open to the public until 6 p.m.

Harwood's funeral service will be at the Expocentre Saturday at 11 a.m.

On Thursday, officers from the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Topeka Police Department and several other departments gathered at a Topeka church as the U.S. Honor Flag was delivered to his family and friends.

The flag was brought from Texas to Kansas, where members of the Topeka Police Department honor guard carried it into the church.

The flag was supposed to be at a Sept. 11 anniversary event, but U.S. Honor Flag founder and CEO Chris Heisler said it was important to bring it for Harwood's funeral. It will rest at his side until he is buried.

"We have a relationship with the city of Topeka," Heisler said.

Harwood was the third Topeka police officer to die on duty in the last two years. In December 2012, Cpl. David Gogian and Officer Jeff Atherly were investigating reported drug activity at a grocery store when they were fatally shot. The U.S. Honor Flag was also carried during their funerals.

"We are a little bit numb," Topeka police officer Steven Block, an honor guard member, said at the flag event Thursday. "This department has had a lot of tragedies in a short amount of time."

The flag has traveled 7 million miles to various funerals for law enforcement officers and others since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

During his 15 years with the police department, Harwood served as a member of the hit-and-run unit as well as the K-9 unit before being promoted to corporal in May 2012. He received a Letter of Accommodation in 2001, Distinguished Service Bar in September of 2013 and two Department Challenge Coins in November 2013.

Harwood, 40, was a decorated 15-year police veteran who was shot after he pulled over a car Sunday.

Ross Preston Lane, 30, is charged with capital murder in his death. He is being held without bond and his attorney has declined to comment. He's due back in court Sept. 25. Authorities haven't said why Harwood stopped Lane's car.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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