Officers killed in APD chopper crash identified - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Officers killed in APD chopper crash identified

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Two Atlanta police officers killed in a tragic helicopter crash on Saturday night were identified on Sunday.  APD says Officer Richard Halford and Officer Shawn Smiley died when their helicopter crashed in northwest Atlanta as they were assisting in a search for a missing child.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, APD said Officer Richard J. Halford, 48, was from Lithia Springs.  He joined APD in May 1986, and had been a pilot with the air unit for more than 16 years.  The department said he had also served in the Zone 4 precinct, which is the motors and DUI unit.  Officer Halford is survived by his former wife and a 21-year-old daughter.

Officer Shawn A. Smiley, 40, was from Lithonia.  He joined APD in October 2012 and had been with the air unit since earlier this year, serving as a tactical flight officer.  Officer Smiley previously served in the Zone 2 precinct.  He is survived by his wife and three children, who are 5, 7, and 9 years old.


Trust funds have bee set up to benefit the families of both officers.  Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank locations beginning at noon on Monday, and they should be made in the officers' names. 

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.  APD says it is coordinating assistance and grief counseling to the officers' families as well as their APD colleagues. 

Both Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Police Chief George Turner offered their condolences to the families of the fallen officers. 

"Our hearts and prayers are with the families of Officer Shawn Smiley and Officer Richard Halford on this difficult day in the City of Atlanta," said Mayor Reed. "The entire city stands with the families and the Atlanta Police Department during this time of grief."

"Officer Richard Halford and Officer Shawn Smiley died honorably, serving our citizens and our police force," said Chief Turner. "Every day, they provided air support for our officers, assisting in major events and searches for suspects and missing persons. Their value to our citizens and our officers on the street is incalculable. Last night they made the ultimate sacrifice in those endeavors. Please join us in honoring their valiant legacies and praying for their families and our Department as we grieve their loss."

The Atlanta City Council will honor the officers during their meeting on Monday afternoon. Several members have released statements regarding the deadly accident:

"I personally knew both Officer Richard J. Halford and Officer Shawn A. Smiley. I too join my colleagues in expressing our deepest sympathy to their families. Our prayers are with them during this difficult time. It would be difficult to measure the impact these officers had on the many people's lives they touched over the years, personally and professionally.   Their commitment to helping others and to serving our community leaves a wonderful legacy. We are saddened to lose such loyal and committed officers." -- Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin, District 10

"This is a devastating loss for the entire city. Our prayers and thoughts are with Officer Richard J. Halford's and Officer Shawn A. Smiley's families, loved ones and their colleagues in the Atlanta Police Department. Officer Halford and Officer Smiley were dedicated to serving and protecting the people of our city - whenever and wherever needed.  This tragic event is a stark reminder of the many dangers law enforcement personnel face on a daily basis.  We will provide all that is necessary to comfort and support the families of these brave and beloved officers." -- Public Safety Committee Chairman Michael Julian Bond

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Officer Richard J. Halford and Officer Shawn A. Smiley. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to each of their families. May God keep them and strengthen them during this difficult time. We will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers. We will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers in the days ahead." -- Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell

Good Day Atlanta's Ron Gant said on Monday he knew Alford well, having met him when he came to Atlanta in the late 1980s. Gant described Alford as a man who would do anything for anyone. Gant said it's been a "tough couple of days."

Federal investigators probing the crash say it could be nine months before the exact cause of the crash is known.

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