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Atlanta Police Mourn Loss of Two Officers in Tragic Helicopter Crash
Posted Date: 11/4/2012 3:00 PM
Mayor Kasim Reed press release header

  Atlanta Police Department Public Affairs
226 Peachtree Street SW • Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Carlos Campos, APD Public Affairs Manager
404-546-4212, office
404-617-5073, cell

Elizabeth Espy, APD Public Affairs Asst. Manager


News Release

Atlanta Police Mourn Loss of Two Officers in Tragic Helicopter Crash

The City of Atlanta Police Department (APD) lost two officers in a helicopter crash late Saturday night.  The Department’s Air Unit had been called to assist with a search for a missing 9-year-old boy in northwest Atlanta when witnesses said the helicopter lost control and crashed to the ground around 10:30 p.m.
The two officers killed on impact were:
  • Officer Richard J. Halford of Lithia Springs, age 48, joined the APD in May 1986. He had been with the Air Unit for more than 16 years, serving as a pilot. Officer Halford has also served in the Department’s Zone 4 precinct, the Motors and DUI units. He is survived by his former wife, and a 21-year-old daughter.
  • Officer Shawn A. Smiley of Lithonia, age 40, joined the APD in October 2010. He had been with the Air Unit since earlier this year, serving as a tactical flight officer. He previously served in the Department’s Zone 2 precinct. He is survived by his wife and three children, ages 5, 7, and 9.
The Atlanta Police Department is coordinating assistance and grief counseling to the families of the officers, and the fallen officers’ colleagues in APD’s Air Unit.
Trust funds have been set up to benefit the officers' families through any Wells Fargo bank location. Contributions may be made in the name of the officers beginning at noon on Monday. Funeral arrangements will be announced.
Chief George Turner and Mayor Kasim Reed expressed appreciation for the brave officers and condolences to the families.
"Our hearts and prayers are with the families of Officer Shawn Smiley and Officer Richard Halford on this difficult day in the City of Atlanta," said Mayor Reed. "The entire city stands with the families and the Atlanta Police Department during this time of grief."
“Officer Richard Halford and Officer Shawn Smiley died honorably, serving our citizens and our police force,” said Chief Turner. “Every day, they provided air support for our officers, assisting in major events and searches for suspects and missing persons. Their value to our citizens and our officers on the street is incalculable. Last night they made the ultimate sacrifice in those endeavors. Please join us in honoring their valiant legacies and praying for their families and our Department as we grieve their loss.”
Information released earlier today follows:
Shortly after 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 3rd, Atlanta Police Department officers responded to a report of a missing child at 1855 Joseph E. Boone Blvd. N W.
One of APD's Air Unit helicopters responded to assist with the search. Around 10:30 p.m., witnesses reported that the helicopter crashed to the ground at Hamilton E. Holmes, near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Both officers on board were killed on impact.
The accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.   Chief George Turner and Mayor Kasim Reed expressed their sympathies for the families of the fallen officers and concern and support for their grieving colleagues.
"Losing an officer is the most difficult thing a police chief can face," said Chief Turner. "Losing two is an unthinkable tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families of these officers and our thoughts and prayers are with them. This is a difficult day for the APD family and it is a reminder of their bravery and the sacrifices made by our officers every day."
"I am deeply saddened by the terrible accident that claimed the lives of two on-duty Atlanta Police Department officers," said Mayor Reed. "We mourn these two brave men and offer our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones. We also pause to extend our sympathy to the men and women of the police department who place their lives in harm's way every day to keep our city safe, and who especially feel the pain of this loss."


The mission of the Atlanta Police Department is to reduce crime and promote the quality of life, in partnership with our community.