CLINTON, Mo. - Family and friends of Officer Gary Michael Jr. are gathering Saturday in Clinton, Mo. to lay him to rest.
Michael was shot and killed during a traffic stop August 6. The man suspected of the shooting him, Ian McCarthy, pled not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
Funeral services will take place at the Benson Center before Michael will be taken to Englewood Cemetery. Gov. Eric Greitens will speak at the service along with Gary Michael's brother, Chris Michael, Cpt. Sonny Lynch and Dr. Randy Shipman.
"He was my guardian"
Chris Michael eulogized his brother, describing himself as his brother's "competitive shadow" and scooping manure together on the family farm.
He also explained that after his brother returned from overseas service in the U.S. Army, he got a job as a car salesman.
"It wasn't that he wasn't good at it. It just didn't satisfy his heart," Chris Michael said.
That's when Gary Michael decided he would quit his job and become a police officer. He especially wanted to work in Clinton, his hometown.
"He was my guardian when I was little and picked me up and encouraged me," Chris Michael said. "He encouraged me as a man. He loved me when I failed. He loved me always. So to you brother, I say 'thank you and I love you.'"
Thin Blue Line
Greitens spoke about Michael's giving heart and his desire to do good in the world. He also encouraged Michael's family to seek support from the police community.
"There are no words to ease the ache," Greitens said. "I also want you to know this: in the months and years ahead, when you miss Gary, you will always have the support of family members, the Clinton Police Department, and the police family. They will come when you call and they will be there when you need them."
Greitens also spoke about a "culture that has become too quick to condemn the peacekeepers and defame its defenders."
"Our communities have always needed the service and devotion of our police officers but now more than ever our police officers also need our devotion and our service," Greitens said.
After Michael's casket was taken from the funeral home, hundreds of people gathered along the route to pay their respects. Michael was escorted by a seemingly endless procession of police vehicles from Missouri, Kansas and all over the country.
Fellow officers from Missouri, Kansas and several other states all turned out to pay their respects. Police across Missouri placed a black band across their badges in honor of Michael.