As the only white male in a unit that served warrants, Clayton County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Daly embraced the nickname playfully bestowed his colleagues.
"He was 'White Chocolate,'" said Sheriff's Sgt. Kathy King. "He wore it proudly and told everyone, 'I'm White Chocolate.' It was fun. He was a wonderful man. We lost an outstanding deputy."
Daly, 55, of Zebulon, was shot and killed in the line of duty July 20, during a traffic stop in Riverdale. His funeral is 2 p.m., today, at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro. Daly's alleged assailant has been charged with murder.
"The day it happened, we were in training class," said King. "They pulled us out and told us, just at first, that he'd been shot. We didn't know until later that he'd died. I was devastated. It was one of those situations where it was an out-of-body experience."
King and hundreds of others paid final respects to Daly during a 12-hour visitation Wednesday at a Jonesboro funeral home. Fire trucks, EMS units and marked patrol cars from Clayton and other counties streamed in and out of the funeral home's parking lot with each passing hour.
King was Daly's supervisor when he came to work for the sheriff's office in 2009. Prior to that, he spent about 20 years at the Clayton County Police Department. While there, Daly worked alongside former police chief, Jeff Turner. The men joined the department at the same time in the 1980s and, sometimes, worked the same shift.
Daly left policing for a while, but returned when Turner made chief in 2007. Turner had high praise for his former colleague.
"He was a good officer and a better friend," said Turner. "He was literally that one person who would give you the shirt off his back, if you were in need of it. He spent his life in the service of others, and now he is reaping his rewards in heaven."
King said, first and foremost, Daly was devoted to his family, which includes wife Cheryl; mother, Joyce Daly; son, ToDaly, and daughter, Amanda Wright; and four grandchildren.
"Everything he did seemed to center around his family," she said. "He even took the job at the sheriff's office to accommodate his family –– a shorter drive, better hours and pay."
Inside the funeral home, Daly's family gathered to welcome other mourners. Floral tributes encircled the casket, with uniformed officers standing guard at either end. His mother, Joyce Ormond Daly, wavered between tears of grief and joy at seeing old friends.
"I'm doing OK, it's up and down," she said. "I am happy to see all these people, all grown up, who played with my kids when they were kids."
Also paying respects was Shannon Deyambert, sheriff's office finance administrator. She said Daly's loss has united the law enforcement community.
"The outpouring of love and support from all the various agencies show we are truly one," she said. "No matter who you are, which department you work for –– city, fire, county, whatever –– you are touched it."
Deyambert said Daly was always nice, always had a friendly greeting.
"Even though I only knew him in passing, we're all family," she said. "This is definitely very heartbreaking. This is just so sad. He will be missed."
Today's funeral is expected to be well-attended. Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said he expects thousands of law enforcement officers from all over the region to pay tribute to their fallen brother-in-arms. Gov. Deal's county and local government liaison, Edens Davis, will represent the Governor's Office. Kimbrough said Deal sent the Daly family a personal letter of sympathy.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Spokesman John Bankhead said GBI agents will also attend, but was unsure Wednesday afternoon if Director Vernon Keenan would be there.
Clayton County Fire Battalion Chief Jacque Feilke said Chief Jeff Hood and his command staff will attend the funeral. The fire department's honor guard will also participate.
A handful of Jonesboro streets will be closed from 9:30 a.m., to 4:30 p.m., to accommodate the influx of cars lining up for the procession to Pike County, where Daly will be laid to rest. They are Arnold Place, and Chestnut, Burnside, Cloud, Church, Mill and College streets. The Clayton County Police Department will handle traffic control, said Chief Greg Porter.
Daly's final send-off includes traditional bagpipers, a missing man flying formation and honor guards from several different agencies, said Kimbrough. Kimbrough, who will give a eulogy, plans to award Daly posthumously with the Medal of Valor. Flags at Clayton County government buildings are flying at half-staff in Daly's honor.
It is a tribute befitting a man of Daly's character, said King.
"He was a fine gentleman," she said. "He was the perfect example of a law enforcement officer that anyone would want to meet."