Hundreds pay final respects for NOPD officer killed by hit-and-run driver

Photo provided by the New Orleans Police Department.
Friday, July 12, 2013 - 1:19pm

A funeral service was held today at the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church for Officer Rodney Thomas. The veteran law enforcement officer died in the early morning on Sunday, July 7 after he was stuck by a hit-and-run driver. He was off-duty when the incident occured.

Thomas, 52, joined the ranks of the New Orleans Police Department in 2005. Those who worked with him said he was an upstanding officer who always went above and beyond for the people in his district.

"He was very beloved, and this is a true loss for this community,” Supt. Ronal Surpas, New Orleans Police Department, said. “Rodney was a well-liked, hard-working and dedicated police officer. He sincerely cared about the people he worked with, as well as the countless people he interacted with in this district.”

Hundreds of people gathered on Friday, July 12 to pay their final respects. The funeral procession began at 11:30 a.m. and passed by the place where Thomas spent so much of his time – the Second District Station.

“I’m sure I speak for the entire Second District when I say Rodney Thomas was our dear friend, and he will be sorely missed,” Supt. Surpas said.

While the community mourns, detectives are still working on the complicated case that has seen three arrests already.

The day after the crash occurred, detectives located the white Porsche believed to have been involved in the fatal collision. It was located in a body shop less than one block away from the NOPD headquarters.

Justin McKey, 25, is accused of driving the vehicle and fleeing the scene. He is currently charged with felony Hit-and-Run and Manslaughter.

In addition, Kenneth Halley, 28, and Bill Cager, 34, are facing charges for assisting in hiding the vehicle. Detectives believe they knew the damage was caused by the fatal crash and did not inform police.

Cager, the body shop owner, is charged with Obstruction of Justice and Accessory After the Fact to Manslaughter. Halley, whose involvement was not listed, is facing the same charges.

Officials say this case is far from closed. They continue to gather information and question individuals about the case. They say additional arrests are possible.

A memorial fund has been established at the Gulf Coast Band and Trust Company for the family of Officer Thomas.

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