‘He Was a Family Man’: Widow, Daughter of Baton Rouge Officer, LA Mom Mourn Killer, Victims

The police officer’s widow and the officer’s daughter spoke movingly of forgiveness in their father’s memory at the service Friday to commemorate the first officer slain in the line of duty in Baton Rouge.

Officer Brad Garafola, 44, was slain last week as he and his partner conducted a traffic stop on a motorcycle, without provocation.

“This past week, I’ve gone through some painful emotions,” Lauren said. “I’ve come to terms with the fact that he isn’t coming back. The pain is too intense and it’s too raw.”

Officers from the Baton Rouge Police Department and neighboring East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office filled St. Dominic Catholic Church in Baton Rouge, where they stood shoulder to shoulder with a row of uniformed priests. Garafola’s funeral was held in order to give close friends and family members an opportunity to pay their respects as well, and the service was broadcast live on social media, prompting applause and cheers from the crowd of hundreds outside.

Investigators are looking into possible motive in the slaying, which happened just days after a Louisiana mother was gunned down by an estranged husband near the state Capitol.

Garafola joined the department 20 years ago, just after his youngest son was born. He regularly took his son to police training.

“Even when he was young, his eyes lit up at the sight of an officer’s badge,” Dallas Garafola, Brad’s brother, said in an eulogy.

Garafola was a beloved neighbor and father of three who worked long hours, but never forgot his five children.

“He took care of us. He made us his priority,” Lauren Garafola said. “He missed out on things like dance recitals, Easter egg hunts, and one Christmas.”

Dallas Garafola said he wasn’t surprised his brother showed up one day to listen to his youngest daughter sing at a children’s choir performance.

“He worked long hours, but he was also a family man,” Garafola said. “When times got tough he’d come home and play with the kids.”

Garafola’s wife, Monique, told mourners he knew how to make her feel good.

“He brought me happiness, and I will always remember that,” she said, wiping away tears.

Garafola’s family asked that his son, Cameron, 17, the only child he never had, be allowed to honor his father in the ceremony. Police watched as Cameron, dressed in a green shirt and gray pants, blew a kiss to his father’s coffin as he walked behind Dallas as he spoke.

Lauren Garafola asked those who questioned her parents’ decision to accept Jesus Christ more than 25 years ago to pray for them and ask their families to do the same.

“Pray for them that they can forgive themselves and the people that hurt them,” she said. “It’s a hard thing to ask.”

Joseph Morris, the husband of officer Breighle Morris, told the audience that they lost two of their best friends.

“We want the community to know we are hurting. We are devastated,” Morris said. “And we want to live our lives in the faith that he lived.”

More than 100 cars in the funeral procession brought traffic to a halt on the highway, which was lined with scores of police cars, firefighters’ trucks and motorcycles. The procession was accompanied by a drum and bugle corps and a bagpipe ensemble.

The funeral was one of the largest services in recent years for an officer killed in the line of duty in Louisiana.

Garafola is the first Baton Rouge officer killed in the line of duty since Detective Matthew Gerald, who was shot to death during a tactical operation on Memorial Day weekend of 2012. Another officer fatally shot Gerald. The investigation into that shooting eventually led to a federal gun charge against Gerald’s gunman.

Garafola, who was also a SWAT officer, is survived by his wife, four children, mother and three brothers.

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