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Murdered Delaware Cpl. Keith Heacook's cousin issues fiery remarks on how media treats slain officers, gets rousing response

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Image source: The Salisbury Daily Times video screenshot

Delmar Police Department Cpl. Keith Heacook's cousin tore into the media on Monday during Heacook's funeral.

What's a brief history here?

The fallen officer — a 22-year veteran of the department who was weeks away from retirement — was laid to rest on Monday after Randon T. Wilkerson reportedly beat him to death during a late April domestic call in which Heacook was the only officer to respond.

Heacook was rushed to Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was placed on life support. True to the officer's prior wishes, he was kept on life support for organ donation.

Grave understaffing has plagued the Delmar, Delaware, police department for years.

The town of Delmar straddles the Delaware-Maryland state line.

What are the details?

During the Monday funeral, Heacook's cousin Larry Schwartz — a retired law enforcement officer — took to the church's platform to memorialize his fallen family member.

"On April 24, Keith was getting ready for his midnight shift," Schwartz said. "Your thoughts are not, 'What's going to happen to me today?' It's, 'Does the kid have a game? Do I gotta go to the bank? Am I getting enough sleep for my side job?'"

Detailing the call that took the well-loved officer's life, Schwartz continued, "In that home, he met an attacker, an unarmed man. Keith fought hard for his life. He had so much to live for. Was he thinking of his wife Susan? His son Matthew? His mother Anita?"

"Giving everything he had to make sure he could get back to his family, but that didn't happen because in the real world, criminals don't always comply and unarmed criminals can kill you," he added. "This caused a nightmare these first responders will have for the rest of their lives, but here we are today paying tribute for our hero."

Pointing to how the media often covers police officers' deaths when compared to suspects' deaths, Schwartz added, "If Cpl. Heacook had to take the [bad] actor's life, what would have happened to his life? It would've been hell. The media would've been here in full force ... 'Unarmed this, unarmed that' every night without fail."

"Keith would have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation was conducted," he continued. "That investigation would have taken weeks, if not months, to complete. During that time, Keith's life would have been put under a microscope, as it's easy for folks who have no idea about police work. His family would be shunned. Even when Keith was cleared, that does not generate enough news."

Speaking directly to Delmar leaders, Schwartz demanded, "Are you going to make changes so this doesn't happen again, or are you going to let it roll the dice? Because I can assure, this can happen again."

Calling out Delmar Police Chief Ivan Barkley, Schwartz said, "Chief Barkley, you're the leader, this is the time for your voice to be heard. I heard your newscast when you said you needed more manpower. Chief, stand up and fight for your officers. Don't be silenced, they deserve it."

"To the federal and state politicians — what are you saying to the men of law enforcement when you shout, 'Defund the police' and 'Strip them of qualified immunity,' yet you keep qualified immunity for yourselves," he added. "Stop listening to the loudest voices. Listen to the voices that law enforcement protect. ... FYI you know who hates bad officers the most? The good cops out there doing the job every day of the week."

"Let his name be a beginning, not an end," Schwartz concluded. "Good change can come from this. Let it happen."

Cpl. Keith A. Heacook Funeral Service youtu.be

Leaders weigh in

Delmar Police Department Cpl. Kevin McCahill said that Heacook was an ideal police officer with the "true heart of a servant."

"He fought the good fight with dignity and grace," McCahill said.

McCahill also said that the fallen officer was a "gentle giant, strong as an ox, a giant teddy bear, and a happy-go-lucky fellow" who was "always smiling" and "would do anything for anyone."

"Keith helped anyone who needed help," he added. "That was Keith's way — he never wanted credit."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), also in attendance at Monday's service, said that his family, friends, and co-workers should focus on the legacy Heacook left behind in the wake of his death.

“We pray that you find solace knowing that his sacrifice will not ever be forgotten and that he's a true hero," Hogan said. "Keith's legacy will forever live on through the countless lives that he touched throughout his incredible life."

"There was nothing he wouldn't do for the residents of his community," Hogan continued. "Keith spent more than two decades serving and protecting others, and he brought honor to his badge each and every day. He acted immediately without regard for his own safety. The heinous crime that followed which resulted in unspeakable tragedy is a reminder of the risks that our men and women in blue face every single day. And it's on the worst of days that we ask the very best of them."

The Maryland Republican added, "Cpl. Keith Heacook will have the eternal gratitude of two states that will forever be in his debt."

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D), who was also at Heacook's funeral, said, "Thank you for sharing your husband, your brother, son, your father with us, and for making him the kind of man willing to put his uniform on every single day to protect his neighbors and be a peacemaker for this little town too big for one state."

Carney continued, "To Cpl. Heacook's family and the Delmar Police Department, we know you're feeling the collective grief of this whole community right now on both sides of the line. I hope you also feel the collective support, and the pride, and appreciation that we all feel when we think of you and when we think of your fallen brother. Put simply, you represent the best in all of us, and your courage and dedication to service lifts us up today during this very difficult time."

"He wasn't just doing his job, he was trying to help his neighbors. He was running toward the danger to protect his neighbors from that danger; he went to hat residence to be a peacemaker," Carney said. "I find that my only consolation is knowing the incredible good in peacemakers like Cpl. Heacook and other law enforcement officers, who are willing to risk their lives to keep the rest of us safe, and in the end, that that good will prevail."

'It comes from the heart'

According to WRDE-TV, the service featured several voicemails from Heacook to his family members.

One such message featured a cheerful Heacook leaving a message that said, "Hi honey! Enjoy your day at work. Have fun, work hard, earn that dollar, so you can take me out somewhere, 'bye!"

In another recording, Heacook could be heard saying, "I'm sorry you missed my call too because I was bringing sexy back, 'bye."

"Love you!" a third message relayed. "Mean it! It comes from the heart!"

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