Nine who died in line of duty honored at Peace Officers Memorial

(Posted May 6, 2024)

Joined by members of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and law enforcement officers from across the state, Attorney General Dave Yost gathered on May 2 with the families of nine Ohio peace officers who died in the line of duty in recent years to honor the officers and others lost before them.

“Today is a day of remembrance and profound sadness,” Yost told those attending the 36th Ohio Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony which took place outside the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London. “There is no need to mask our pain. We all share it.”

Also during his opening remarks, Yost expressed his support for law enforcement nationwide, reflecting on the slaying this week of four police officers in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The grief we feel for the peace officers honored here today is compounded by our shock at this tragic event,” Yost said. “The Thin Blue Line that connects our work, wherever that work is done, connects our hearts, too. And for that reason, we are gathered here not only to give comfort to each other, but to receive it.”

This year’s ceremony paid special tribute to nine Ohio law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty between 2020 and 2023 and one historical honoree. It also marked the public unveiling of a major renovation of the Fallen Officers Memorial Wall on the grounds of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

Freshly engraved with the names of 836 peace officers dating back to 1832, the 32 panels of polished black granite that form the memorial wall were recently mounted over the wall’s limestone face, preserving the legacy of Ohio’s fallen heroes for generations to come.

The eternal flame, a reminder of the risks that peace officers face every day, still burns at the center of the memorial.

The nine peace officers memorialized this year are:

  • Deputy Joshua I. Hamilton, Preble County Sheriff’s Office
Hamilton
Deputy Joshua I. Hamilton

Deputy Hamilton died in a head-on crash on a dark, rural road in Preble County on Dec. 18, 2023, while pursuing a speeding motorist. He was 34. Hamilton had been with the Preble County Sheriff’s Office for approximately 1.5 years, since May 2022. He was assigned to the jail until June 2023, when he was promoted to road patrol. Before entering law enforcement, Hamilton was in the Navy, serving on the USS Nimitz. He later served in the Navy Reserve and Army National Guard. He is survived by a young daughter and his parents.

  • Deputy Marcus L. Zeigler, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Marcus L. Zeigler

Nine months after joining the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office as a corrections officer, Deputy Zeigler collapsed during a training run at the Great Oaks police academy, where he was pursuing the next stage of his career. He was rushed to the hospital but died two days later on May 26, 2023. He was 36. Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey remembers swearing him in as a deputy: “There was no mistaking his pride in that uniform.” Zeigler loved firearms and quickly became an expert. From 2017 to 2022, he operated his own training business, Zeigler Defense Systems. He is survived by his wife and five children.

  • Officer Timothy J. Unwin, Springfield Township Police Department
Officer Timothy J. Unwin

Officer Unwin died in a car crash on March 31, 2023, as he was responding to a radio call for assistance from fellow officers who were being attacked by an individual resisting arrest. He was 31. He joined the Springfield Township Police Department on May 24, 2021. He started his career as a corrections officer with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office before joining the city of Hamilton Police Department. “He made everyone smile with his antics,” Springfield Township Chief Rick Bley said. “He truly made everyone a better person.” He is survived by his parents and siblings.

  • Deputy Terrance N. Bateman, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Terrance N. Bateman

Deputy Bateman was a kind man with a quiet demeanor and a servant’s heart, his colleagues said. A 25-year veteran of the Corrections Division in the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, he provided encouragement to his co-workers and the inmates he supervised. “Mr. B never missed an opportunity to say a kind word. He was simply loved,” his colleagues wrote in an online tribute soon after his death. Bateman is remembered for his commitment to faith and family. He died of COVID-19 on Jan. 15, 2022. He was 59. He is survived by his wife and seven children.

  • Corporal Matthew D. Mitchell, South Vienna Police Department
Corporal Matthew D. Mitchell

Cpl. Mitchell served three years with the South Vienna Police Department and, before that, five years with the South Charleston Police, where he also was a member of the Clark County drug task force. Before deciding to go into law enforcement and attending the Clark State Police Academy, he worked with a private investigations company. His first job out of the academy was with the Port William Police Department in Clinton County. In early December 2021, in the course of his job, Mitchell contracted COVID-19. He died Dec. 29 at age 52. He is survived by his longtime girlfriend and three children.

  • Officer Anthony E. Cloyd, University of Dayton (UD) Department of Public Safety
Officer Anthony E. Cloyd

Like many other first responders, Officer Cloyd contracted COVID-19 while carrying out his duties. He died on Dec. 9, 2021, at age 59, the first UD officer to die in the line of duty. Cloyd became a peace officer later in life. At 43 he went to the police academy, then landed his first and only job at UD in 2005. As a patrol officer, he enjoyed interacting with students and university area residents. He was a favorite of the Flyers basketball team and was close with university administrators. His wife remembers him as someone who always put others first with small acts of kindness. He is also survived by three sons.

  • Deputy Billy I. Ihrig, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Billy I. Ihrig

Deputy Ihrig died on Oct. 28, 2021, after suffering complications from COVID-19. He is believed to have contracted the virus about a month earlier while restraining a suspect he had arrested. Ihrig entered law enforcement after serving 13 years in the Marine Corps. He started his 17-year career with the sheriff’s office in corrections, moved to the detective bureau, and spent the last several years working in patrol. His love and commitment to the military never wavered. After leaving active service, he volunteered with the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police. His family remembers his enduring willingness to help people. Ihrig was 52. He is survived by his longtime girlfriend and six children.

  • Officer Gerald F. Lynch, Mentor Police Department
Officer Gerald F. Lynch

Officer Lynch started his law enforcement career in 1987 after serving overseas in the U.S. Army. He retired as a lieutenant in 2016 after 24 years with the Painesville Police Department, but he returned to service the following year with the City of Mentor as a part-time officer in Municipal Court. While working for Mentor, Lynch contracted COVID-19. He died on Oct. 3, 2021, at the age of 56. The father of three is remembered by his wife as being selfless in his work, noting that on several occasions he had declined honors so that lower-ranking officers would be recognized instead.

  • Patrolman Mark U. Heinl, St. Henry Police Department
Patrolman Mark U. Heinl

Patrolman Heinl died at age 60 on Nov. 28, 2020, after a monthlong battle with COVID-19. Before joining the St. Henry Police Department, he had retired as a captain from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office after a decades-long career there. Heinl also was an active volunteer with several local emergency response agencies and numerous community organizations. His family continues his legacy in the profession. A son and daughter-in-law work for the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, and another son is with the Columbus Division of Police. Heinl’s wife and four children established a scholarship fund in his memory which so far has provided academy tuition to three cadets.

The historical honoree this year is Assistant Chief Orion Hale of the Germantown Police Department, who died after suffering a heart attack during a response call on Dec. 20, 1957. Hale’s line-of-duty death was only recently discovered by his department.

In ending his remarks at the ceremony, Yost expressed gratitude on behalf of all Ohioans, pledging to always remember the heroes whose selfless sacrifice is reflected on the memorial wall.

“The impact of their deaths will ripple through future generations as children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, mourn the opportunities lost and the memories that fate has denied them,” he said. “The granite panels that carry the names of our fallen are new, recently added as part of our solemn commitment to always remember.”

Ceremonial units from many Ohio law enforcement agencies participated in the  event, with a rider-less horse provided by the Columbus Division of Police serving as a symbol of the lives lost.

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