Tears, outrage at funeral

Mourners remember slain detective for his energy, motivation and jokes

January 17, 2007|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,sun reporter

Some of the images of Baltimore Detective Troy L. Chesley Sr. that flashed on screens above the pulpit made people laugh.

In one, he is bare-chested, belly out and wearing white swim trunks. Another shows him as a boy, with a silly grin and eyes as big as grapes.

Others shown at his funeral yesterday revealed his serious side. Posing for a portrait as a young police officer, he looked straight into the camera with a stony expression. Later, he stood with chin up, leaning against a patrol car with other members of the Western District.

Chesley was shot twice in the chest during a gunfight outside his girlfriend's West Forest Park home early Jan. 9. He had just finished work and had his key in the door when the shooting began. Before he collapsed, Chesley shot one man in the leg.

"Times like this everyone is asking, `Why did this happen?'" Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm told mourners at New Shiloh Baptist Church. "Why was such a dedicated and talented young man taken from us so soon? Unfortunately, a proper answer escapes us."

At the service, many talked about the violent and seemingly random nature of Chesley's death. Political leaders expressed outrage. Police officials vowed vigilance. Those who knew him cried.

The church filled up before anyone started talking. Family and friends sat in the center pews. Uniformed officers occupied the left and right sides of the cavernous church. The balcony was filled, and hundreds of others who couldn't fit into the sanctuary spilled into two lobbies.

Flower arrangements consisted of yellow and red roses. One spelled "Dad." Chesley had two daughters and three boys. Another arrangement spelled his nickname, "T-Roy." A third was shaped like a police badge. Chesley was on the force for 13 years.

As a police chaplain sang gospel music, family members walked up to the open casket to say their final goodbyes. Mourners leaned over to kiss Chesley's cheek.

Then officers removed an American flag from the casket. A man slid Chesley's detective badge from out of his pocket. Several people wailed, and the casket was closed. A woman shouted, "My heart, my heart." And the service began.

Martin O'Malley, on his last day as mayor before being sworn in as governor today, used his speech to take aim at the court system for allowing the man charged with killing Chesley to be on the streets despite a long criminal record. Slowly, pausing after each number, he counted out loud the times Brandon Grimes was arrested before the night the officer was shot.

"It is not right that a man who was arrested one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 times should be allowed to take one of ours from us," O'Malley said.

"It is not right that a man who was arrested twice on gun charges ... should take the father of these five children from us. It is not right."

When he finished, uniformed police officers stood and applauded.

Sitting on the left side of the church, State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy remained seated, her hands clasped in her lap. In a statement through a spokeswoman last night, Jessamy said she was respecting a court-issued gag order in not commenting on the shooting.

City Council President Sheila Dixon, who will become mayor today, spoke next. She told Chesley's children, "Your father made the ultimate sacrifice. Making that kind of commitment is bigger than anything a mayor, a governor, a president of the United States do.

"I pray that that individual, that those individuals have a conscience and they realized ... what they've done to someone's family and the city of Baltimore. And yes, we are outraged about that."

Sgt. Steven Ward said of his friend, "Troy was always either playing a joke or joking with one of his fellow officers. Then, in July of 2006 ... " Ward paused, "I became Troy's supervisor." His voice broke. He stopped again.

"It's all right," someone yelled.

Ward, his voice cracking, continued, "I learned quickly that he was a highly motivated, energetic person. Troy was the ultimate team player, a partner anyone would be proud to have."

Ward said Chesley had a talent for working with informants, that he infiltrated a drug network in the Gilmor Homes public housing community in West Baltimore.

Sometimes drugs came to Chesley. Ward recalled one time when Chesley went to a bank machine. He withdrew cash, and a few people approached him and asked him whether he wanted to buy a dime bag of marijuana. Chesley "bought" two bags, then he arrested the men.

Osborne Robinson, who was in Chesley's academy class, read a letter that Chesley had written to his mother: "When things become right for me, trust you will be the first to know because things will be right for you.

"I am thankful every second that you, on your salary, were able to take care of me and [my brother], raising us to be positive boys and productive men. Nobody can't say that you didn't beat the odds by raising two boys.

"Things will be better to me and you. ... I love you and thanks for loving me."


Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.