Police officers from throughout the mid-Atlantic region traveled to Woodstream Church in Mitchellville, Md. on Aug. 28 to pay their respects to Prince George’s Police Officer Adrian A. Morris, who tragically died in high-speed chase on Aug. 20.

The ceremony celebrated the passion Morris, a former police explorer, had for his job and saluted him for dying in the line of duty.

Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw spoke to how Morris’ service to the department will be sorely missed.

“In the time that Adrian was a Prince George’s County Police Officer, he made a lasting impression on our agency, his coworkers and his community as well,” Magaw said. “His loss has left us with a tremendous void.”

The hearse carrying Morris’ casket to the church was preceded by a column of more than 50 motorcycle officers from various police jurisdictions with local motorcycle officers at the lead. As the funeral procession reached the parking lot of the church, honor guards from agencies as far away as Harrisburg, Pa. presented their colors as the hearse, vehicles carrying members of Morris’ family and some of his colleagues entered the lot.

Bagpipes groaned as pallbearers carried the casket, draped in the stars and stripes, into the church. That was followed by Morris’ family and Prince George’s County police officers, marching in military formation.

Inside the church, officers representing not just local police departments but a wide spectrum of outposts of peace officers including–Calvert County, Ocean City, George Mason University, the Washington Hospital Center, the Washington Naval District, U.S. Treasury, Maryland Natural Resources, U.S. Postal Service, Cecil County—all stood shoulder to shoulder in silent attention at the funeral of a fallen officer.

The nearly hour and half-long service included remarks from two of his friends on the force, officers Michael Owens and Kenneth Hibbert. Hibbert was able to fight through his emotions as he told an anecdote of the physical toll beating the then-16-year-old Morris, who carried the nickname “Ant,” in a footrace the day they met, took on him.

“Adrian Morris got the best of me that day,” Hibbert said. “I was laying on that table in the station for about 20 minutes giving up my life. I went back outside and all the other explorers wanted to challenge me. I said ‘I’m done for the day. I can barely walk.’”

There were also remarks from Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), Prince George’s Fraternal Order of Police President Vince Canales, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).

Hoyer and Baker, in their remarks, quoted Shakespeare in commenting on Morris’ life. Baker, used a line from {Romeo and Juliet} to vent his emotions.

“Adrian had a purpose in life and I believe that purpose will continue to shine in each one of us that he touched if we take him, cut him out into the stars and his face will make heaven so fine that all of the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun,” Baker said.

After Hoyer’s remarks, in which he quoted Macbeth, he presented Morris’ mother, Sherrin Crosdale with a flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol building.

Perhaps one of the more poignant moments in the ceremony came when Cpl. Jason Ruffino and Officer Michael Risher, who was in the police cruiser with Morris when he was killed, lit four candles as Ashlee Robinson recited a poem called Four Candles.

The service ended with Police Chaplain Manuel J. Rivera giving the eulogy. Morris’s uncle, Linval Crosdale, thanked sympathizers.

“We are indeed overwhelmed by the huge show of support by the police community,” Crosdale said. “We are indeed a part of a larger family and we fully embrace that ideal.”

Morris was killed after a high-speed chase of two car theft suspects on Interstate 95 near Beltsville. Morris, who was driving the cruiser, was ejected from the vehicle which swerved off the southbound lanes and landed in a ditch.

Police arrested Kevon Darnell Neal, 23, of Ft. Washington, and Kenneth Clark Mitchell, 24, of D.C. and charged them with felony theft. Neal is being held without bond while Mitchell is being held in Washington on an outstanding warrant on another matter.

Morris was posthumously awarded the rank of officer first class.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO