The Clayton County Police Department Honor Guard carries slain Officer Sean Callahan’s coffin into his funeral at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta Friday.
By Kathy Jefcoats
MARIETTA — Slain Clayton County police Officer Sean Callahan was laid to rest Friday in a ceremony befitting his position as a respected member of law enforcement.
Callahan, 24, of Kennesaw died Tuesday morning after being shot in the line of duty Monday afternoon. He joined the department in August. Callahan was single and leaves behind his parents, grandparents, a sister and other relatives and friends. His funeral program presented Callahan as he was in life — a dog lover, fitness enthusiast and beloved member of his family.
He was eulogized at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church by Chief Greg Porter, officers Waymondo Brown and Alex Frazier, sister Candice Shirley, stepfather John Rogers, friend Melody Benjamin and best friends Brent Tyler, Justin Baker and Justin Morgan.
Sgt. Gazzara Hill read scripture and led the group in prayer.
Outgoing Clayton Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell gave a proclamation and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety made a presentation in Callahan's honor. Church Pastor Ron Hughes offered words of comfort and the benediction.
Callahan was buried at Winkerhofer Pine Ridge Memorial Park in Kennsaw.
Law enforcement agencies around the metro area joined the Clayton County Police Department in paying final respects. A motorcade left Jonesboro just before 8 a.m. Friday en route to Cobb County. Officer Tommy Cash directed traffic at Government Circle in near-freezing temperatures for more than an hour before the caravan left. Patrol cars and unmarked units began assembling behind the police department before dawn.
The group met with other officers at Turner Field in Atlanta before proceeding to Marietta for services.
Officer Robert Nelson worked the same shift as Callahan and praised the young officer's enthusiasm for his chosen career.
"He was a wonderful officer," said Nelson. "He showed a strong determination to work, he never complained and always had a smile on his face. He was always a great influence."
Nelson said the loss has been felt throughout the department.
"The department is trying to keep positive but that will probably change as we go forward," he said. "This has been a devastating loss to the department and the shift. Law enforcement has lost a lot."
Callahan was the first Clayton County police officer to die by gunfire in the line of duty. He was the second countywide Clayton County officer to die in 17 months.
Callahan was born in New Orleans and attended Lassiter High School, Reinhardt University and Kennesaw State University. Relatives said he was passionate about music, fitness, family and friends and his dogs. Callahan enjoyed swimming, racquetball and working out. He was also an avid reader.
He put himself through the police academy rather than seek out a law enforcement agency to sponsor him and was hired in August by the Clayton County Police Department.
Included in the funeral program was a poem titled "I Am Free." It provides words of comfort for Callahan's family and friends as they struggle with their grief.
"Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free, I'm following the paths God made for me. I took His hand, I heard Him call, then turned around, and bid farewell to all," the poem begins. The anonymous writing ends with "Perhaps my time seemed all too brief, don't lengthen it now with grief. Lift up your hears and share with me, God wants me know, He set me free."