It's easy for Police Officer Pete Matejcik to crack a smile when talking about Gary "Coop" Davis, but there's no question the loss of his former colleague on duty still stings, no matter how much time passes.
"It was, by far, the very worst day of my life in law enforcement," the 18-year veteran said Thursday while showing the memorial photo of Davis displayed behind a glass case in the police department lobby. The 36-year-old officer was killed May 13, 2004, when a drunken driver struck his patrol car on Interstate 75. He was transporting a suspected drunken driver to the station when the crash occurred. In 2005, the other driver was convicted of misdemeanor offenses.
Davis' 12 years of service to the community and his sacrifice is also commemorated by a marble bench nestled in a thicket of trees between the department and . Both are constant reminders of the tragedy, but they take on special importance for officers around the anniversary, which coincides with National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
"It seems like it was yesterday, and we miss him here every day," Matejcik continued. "He was one of those guys that could put a smile on your face no matter how hard the day was."