KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department and family of Captain Dave Melton are preparing for an emotional weekend.
Friday marks three years since his murder.
July 19, 2016 was the last time Melton walked through the doors at the police department. It was also the day Zeta Bates lost the man she loved.
“I can’t believe it has been that long. So much has happened in that time, but you know, thinking about it, it still takes me right back there to that day,” Bates said.
In times of tragedy, time itself can move fast and slow all at once.
“Hearing a song, seeing a specific person, being in a specific place," Bates said. “It’s crazy it has been three years.”
Melton was shot and killed tracking down suspects after a drive by shooting.
“It goes fast at times,” said John Melton who laid his younger brother to rest. “But this is a time of year when me and David would be working around the house or doing things together, and now we’re not.”
Instead, there’s now a replica of Melton’s badge and a framed picture of the veteran and captain he once was.
“I think that picture really shows David. It shows him as – standing there – as the captain of the police department – that he is chest out, shoulders pulled back,” John Melton said.
Inside her home are reminders of a different kind, like a T-shirt quilt.
“It really shows who he was. He has his Harleys and his vet stuff and his shift stuff,” Bates said.
But T-shirts aren’t all that Melton left behind.
“We tell her, ‘Oh, you look so much like your daddy!’” Bates said.
Eloise Anne Beck Melton is now two-and-a-half years old.
“She looks just like him, and it is amazing,” said Bates who was pregnant with Ellie when Melton died.
He never got to meet his little girl.
“Right after David was killed, we planted an oak tree … when Ellie comes over, we tell her we planted this when your dad was killed. We call this your dad’s tree,” John Melton said.
As Ellie grows and time moves on, the family knows she’ll be forced to learn countless lessons while wishing her dad was by her side.
“The idea that she won’t get to grow up knowing her dad is an incredibly difficult one, because it is not fair. It is not fair at all,” Bates said.
Melton’s killer is up for parole in 22 years. But, the family says they’re no longer letting him steal any more of their time.
Friday, they’ll share stories of Melton at his grave. It is something they’ve done it every year he’s been gone.
“As El gets older, it is super important for us to tell her those stories,” Bates said.
After all, her story is one that’s undeniably keeping Melton’s legacy alive.
“Seeing her is a wonderful reminder of what we had,” Bates.
“We’ll never forget," John Melton said.
The family says they will be at Melton’s killer’s parole hearing 22 years from now. At that time, Eloise will be 25.
Jamal Lewis’ parole eligibility has been controversial. This past fall - in a surprise move – Lewis pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of felony murder resulting in a lesser sentence of life with the possibility of parole.
The family says Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree never told them that could happen.
When they angrily confronted Dupree, they say he lashed back. The family filed an ethics complaint against him.
“I don’t care if he’s the most perfect prisoner. On July of 19, three years ago, he wasn’t perfect at all,” John Melton said. “It’s God’s job to forgive – not mine, but he’ll never be the perfect role model that deserves to ever walk the streets."
The ethics complaint won’t change the sentence. They say they wanted it on record for future cases involving Dupree.