VIDEO | Funeral service for Louisville Metro Police Officer Nick Rodman
Hundreds of law enforcement officers, friends, family members and concerned citizens poured into Southeast Christian Church Tuesday morning to remember Louisville Metro Police Officer Nick Rodman.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Hundreds of law enforcement officers, friends, family members and concerned citizens poured into Southeast Christian Church Tuesday morning to remember Louisville Metro Police Officer Nick Rodman.
Rodman passed away on March 29 from injuries he sustained in a crash during a high-speed chase the previous day. Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said the chase began after police received several calls about shots being fired and arguing in a neighborhood west of downtown.
Conrad says other officers pulled Rodman from his burning vehicle and took him directly to the hospital Tuesday evening. He passed away the next day.
A suspect, Wathaniel Woods, has been arrested and charged with murder in the case.
A mayor pays tribute
At the funeral service, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer painted a picture of Officer Nick Rodman as a professional who showed concern for the community he was policing.
"One of Nick's values was compassion," Mayor Fischer said. "He learned it at the Rodman family dinner table."
Fischer recalled the words of a colleague, who told him that even when Rodman was arresting a suspect, he treated that suspect with respect. He also carried stuffed animals in his cruiser to comfort children who were victims of crimes, and on one occasion, went into a store to purchase popsicles for community kids.
Fischer said Rodman's death should serve as a gut-check for the Louisville community, causing citizens to rethink how they view and treat the police.
"My hope for us as a community is that through this tragedy ... people see police officers more clearly as fellow human beings," Fischer said, adding that people should see officers as "people who love like them, people who cry like them."
He addressed the family of Nick Rodman directly, telling them that, "saying 'thank you' isn't enough" and that, "I swear to you that we will do everything in our power," to take care of them.
Words from the Chief
Moments later, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad spoke about Rodman's courage on the police force, at times, breaking with emotion.
"I, like you, am still reeling from the events of the last Tuesday and Wednesday," he said.
"We all share a profound sense of loss ... but we need to use our time together as an opportunity to honor Nick's life..." he said.
Conrad praised Officer Rodman's work ethic, saying that "he performed all of his duties with enthusiasm, dedication, and -- above all -- a great attitude."
He spoke warmly of Rodman's personality, saying that his colleagues will remember him for, "his great sense of humor, his great sense of honor, and as a great man."
Conrad said that Officer Rodman brought his experience as an athlete to his police squad, treating all of his squad members as team members. When one of Rodman's fellow officers was shot, Conrad said it was Rodman who helped clear the route for him, and helped carry him to the hospital.
Ironically, Conrad said, that officer helped carry Rodman to the hospital last week.
Conrad also spoke directly to the men and women of law enforcement in the audience.
"I pray that through this tragedy we become stronger and more resolved in our efforts to support one another," he said.
"It is in times like these that our uniforms all become the same color, that our ranks disappear, that our badges all reflect the same light," Conrad added.
His address ended a few moments later.
"Through shared memories and the spoken words of others, no one truly dies. Nick, rest in peace."
A squad embraces
Louisville Metro Police Officer Rick Beahl, came to the podium to describe what it was like working with Rodman. Flanked by dozens of Rodman's squad members, Beahl described Rodman as a family man and a huge fan of the Louisville Cardinals.
"When it comes to heart, there's not a ruler or scale big enough to measure Nick's," Beahl said.
Beahl said that in recent days, they heard from an elderly man whose car ran out of gas. The man told them of how Rodman showed up and pushed his car out of the road by himself. When the elderly man apologized for not being able to help, due to a medical issue, Rodman not only pushed the car out of the road, he paid for the man's gas.
Beahl also spoke of Rodman's background -- of how he came from a family of law enforcement members, adding that he was raised by "two of the best parents God has to offer."
"Nick followed in the footsteps of his Dad and brother, which I know made George extremely proud," Beahl said.
He also spoke of Rodman's love for sports.
"Everyone knew how passionate Nick was when it came to the Louisville Cardinals," Beahl said.
But nothing matched Rodman's love for his wife and children, Beahl said.
"According to George, Nick enjoyed being a husband and dad more than anything else in life," Beahl said, adding that Rodman would often take his children on long walks, even after lengthy 12-hour shifts.
"Going without sleep was okay, as long as he was with his babies," Beahl said.
"It's never easy to say goodbye to someone who means so much to so many," Beahl added. "I've tried my best to express just how much Nick meant to this world," but words are inadequate.
Beahl closed by saying that Rodman is still with the Louisville Metro Police Department -- his role has just changed.
"You will be one of God's sheepdogs," he said. "Officer Nick Rodman, rest easy, my friend. We will take it from here."
The squad then embraced.
Pastor Bill Weedman closed out the service by describing a crisis of faith he experienced last week.
"I never even met Nick," Weedman told the audience. "I can't tell you the impact that that [news of his death] had on me ... and I was mad at God."
Weedman said that, as a police chaplain, he was called to the hospital Tuesday night when Rodman was first injured. He said that when he went home Tuesday night, there were positive developments in Rodman's condition -- an Weedman thought he might survive. When he learned of Rodman's passing the next day, he suffered a brief crisis of faith.
"The doctor even broke down and became emotional," Weedman said.
In fact, Weedman said he was so angry at God that, when asked to pray for the officers at the hospital, he didn't want to do so. He said he only did it because the Chief asked him to.
The next day, Weedman said he had to go to Starbucks with his Bible and a notebook and have a conversation with God. He said God brought him to the book of Hebrews, where he read about prophets and patriarchs who suffered violent deaths, despite their righteousness.
The book adds that, "the world was not worthy of them."
"Faith is being sure of what you hope for and being certain of what you do not see," Weedman said, quoting the Bible. He added that, "faith is not blindly believing in something you can't explain. That's just stupidity."
"There are a lot of things in this life that none of us are going to completely understand," he said. He cited the prophet Moses, who said that God has access to secrets mankind doesn't, and mankind isn't responsible for understanding them.
Instead, he called the audience to the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ when he was crucified. Weedman says Christ was righteous, and yet he still suffered tremendously before being resurrected. He said Christ understands what mourners are going through today.
"There are many things in life we just don't understand," Weedman said. "There are things that aren't fair. Don't get caught up in doubt."
He added that Christians believe that they are accepted into heaven based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross -- not their own good deeds.
"That's good news for Nick, and that's good news for all of us, because none of us are perfect," Weedman said.
Weedman offered final encouragement to members of law enforcement in attendance:
"You men and women in law enforcement? You cannot quit," he said.
Finally, he told Rodman's family and members of law enforcement to go forward in the name of Jesus Christ.
Copyright 2017 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.