A Final Salute for a Fallen Officer

Family members, friends and colleagues of Clayton Police rookie and Lassiter graduate Sean Callahan paid tribute at his funeral.

Family members and friends of Officer Sean Callahan peered over his open casket as they took their last glance of him.

Some gently touched his chest, hair and face, and others kissed his forehead before a Clayton County Police honor guard closed the casket and draped an American flag over it.

The former swimmer at Cobb's Lassiter High School was remembered at his funeral Friday as a loving son and brother, a generous friend and "a noble officer."

Callahan, 24, was shot in the head on Monday responding to a domestic dispute and died early Tuesday morning.

He was first Clayton officer ever killed in the line of duty, and dozens of his colleagues, along with more than a hundred law enforcement officers from around Georgia, turned out to pay their respects at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in East Cobb.

After the service, the law enforcment motorcade made its way to Winkenhofer Pine Ridge Memorial Park in Kennesaw, where Callahan was interred.

Callahan had been on the job in Clayton for only four months, but in that short time made a lasting impression on the force.

"He was a noble officer, and I was blessed to call him my friend," Clayton Officer Alex Frazier said.

Clayton Officer Waymando Brown could barely conceal his grief before hearing the applause of the filled sanctuary, and outgoing Clayton Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, a former Atlanta police chief, also was choked with emotion as he read a proclamation honoring Callahan.

Mixed amid fiery Bible readings, Clayton Police Sgt. Gazzara Hill asked that "we pray for a special blessing for [Callahan's] family.

"To my brother Officer Callahan, you fought a good fight. Go ahead and rest in peace, brother."

Callahan's closest friends, who dubbed themselves the "rat pack," joked that some of the things they did together might be best kept to themselves.

"I can't tell these stories to your fellow officers," Callahan's former Lassiter classmate, Kermit Tyler, said as he looked at the casket, prompting laughter.

Another Lassiter friend, Justin Baker, also talked about Callahan's personality. For Valentine's Day one year, they took out twin dates. Baker recalls giving his date a dozen roses and a box of chocolate, thinking Callahan couldn't have outdone him.

As it turned out, Callahan doubled the order of flowers and candy for his date, and tossed in a teddy bear for good measure.

"When I saw him again, I said, 'Really, dude?'" Baker said, outstretching his arms to more laughter.

John Rogers, Callahan's stepfather, expressed his gratitude to the Clayton police community thas has supported and comforted the family this week.

"Our son was very loved and he gave the love back," Rogers said. "And now you are giving the love back to us. I love you all so much. Thank you so very much."

Melody Benjamin, who was Callahan's girlfriend, said "the love of my life was taken from me," and that she will "dedicate my life to his legacy."

Candice Shirley, Callahan's older sister, said that "when I was five years old I wasn't sure I wanted a brother. But these have been the most amazing 24 years of my life . . .

"He is my brother, but he has always been my hero."


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