CATEGORY: Monroe County

AUTHOR: GIBSON

HED:Aberdeen police remember slain officer

By Michaela Gibson Morris

Daily Journal

For Aberdeen police officers, March 17 isn't St. Patrick's Day.

It's the day one of their own died.

For the last six years, Aberdeen officers have gathered to honor the memory of slain Patrol Officer Eric E.K. Wilson.

"He paid the supreme price for his fellow man," said Aberdeen Police Chief Brent Coleman. "He will always be a part of the Aberdeen Police Department. É It's important we don't forget."

Wilson, the only Aberdeen police officer to be killed in the line of duty, was found shot in the head in his patrol car on Columbus Street just after midnight on March 17, 1991.

Every year, police officers journey to his grave in the Baptist Grove Cemetery in Prairie to lay a wreath on his grave, and a local minister is invited to say a prayer.

It's not a fancy ceremony, but Coleman said that's the way Wilson would have wanted it.

Wilson's memory stays with officers who never even served with him as a reminder of the dangers of their chosen profession.

"As law enforcement, it can happen to anyone of us," said Aberdeen Officer Darrell Clay, who has worked with the department for a little more than a year. "You have to keep it in the back of your mind at all times."

Aberdeen police officers are reminded every day of Wilson's death. A cross-stitched poem framed with Wilson's badge and police ID hangs in the Aberdeen Police Station. His badge number has been retired, Coleman said.

Two Aberdeen men were arrested and charged in Wilson's shooting death, but they were never indicted by a grand jury, Coleman said. One of the men is currently serving a 12-year sentence for federal gun possession charges.

Wilson died only a week short of his one-year anniversary on the police force, Coleman said. Wilson was about to go to the law enforcement training academy and had plans to marry his fiancŽe that summer.

Coleman talked to Wilson the night he was killed and warned him to be careful. Wilson gave him a smile and replied, "You be careful, chief," Coleman said.

At the memorial service, Coleman reminded the officers that they never can be too careful.

"You owe it to your family and loved ones to make it to the next roll call," Coleman said.

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