A final farewell for Officer Sonny Kim
NORWOOD, OH (FOX19) - The Tri-State bid farewell Friday to the first Cincinnati police officer to die in the line of duty in 15 years.
Officer Sonny Kim was remembered as a devoted family man and enthusiastic law enforcement veteran, a South Korean immigrant who adopted a city that was not his own, but one in which he leaves a proud and unforgettable legacy.
Thousands of people – including law enforcement from across the country and from local agencies - packed Xavier University's Cintas Center alongside residents and Officer Kim's students from his karate studio.
It was a fitting honor for this 27-year law enforcement veteran who was gunned down in a suicide-by-cop ambush exactly one week ago in Madisonville.
Keynote speakers included Mayor John Cranley, Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, Fraternal Order of Police President Kathy Harrell and Montgomery Community Church Pastor Phil Posthuma.
They praised Officer Kim's duty, honor and service to the police department, city of Cincinnati and his loving devotion to his family.
"A horrible and evil act occurred, and our faith is being tested," Cranley said.
Someone calling 911 with intent to kill an officer is "a monstrous act of evil, and reminds us of the thin line between peace and evil," the mayor said. "Officer Sonny Kim did his part in this struggle, and we are eternally grateful."
Cranley - a father of a young son himself – addressed Officer Kim's teenage sons:
"Timothy, Joshua and Jacob, please know your dad was the good guy, the hero of this city," he told them.
Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell encouraged and urged the boys to never let their father down and to remain strong: "Be everything your dad taught you to be. Overcome every obstacle and know that you have 1,023 aunts and uncles who will never leave your side."
Officer Kim "exemplified what a police officer should look like and act like," the chief said. "He was the absolute best of us. Sonny was loved and admired by the people he served in District 2. They knew his name, they respected him, they trusted him."
The police union leader said they were blessed to count Officer Kim among their ranks.
"Sonny truly left a mark on everyone that he touched," Harrell said.
Officer Kim grew up in Norwood and then Chicago after immigrating here with his family in the 1970s. He returned to Cincinnati after graduating high school and called the Tri-State home.
"He loved this city. He loved the people here," recalled his brother, Mickey Kim.
He shared fond memories of his brother, saying Officer Kim was "so proud to be a family man."
"There is hope in my heart that that day will come again when I see him in heaven. The life he lived was well-lived, and he's in a better place now," his brother said.
Cincinnati Police Specialist Buddy Blankenship, one of Officer Kim's close friends even before they were on the force together, said there never will be any way to repay what Kim gave to the city of Cincinnati.
Blankenship described Lee as an eager public servant who truly enjoyed helping people and once even jumped into the river to save a man.
He encouraged one of Officer Kim's sons to continue posting messages to his father on social media:
"Tim, I do believe God lets us see read Instagram posts in heaven. So keep writing."
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Officer Kim's American flag-draped casket was carried out and driven to Gate of Heaven Cemetery in a white hearse.
The 14-mile-long funeral procession of more than 500 law enforcement vehicles and motorcycle snaked north on Montgomery Road to the officer's final resting place.
The procession detoured to make a stop at the karate dojo Kim owned and taught. The students bowed as the hearse passed by.
It was one of the many touching images of the day and the procession.
He was buried with full, military-style honors: a 21-gun solute, playing of "Taps," folding and presentation of the American flag and a final call.
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