Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Slain Clayton County sheriff’s Deputy Rick Daly’s daughter Amber Wright, wife Cheryl, Sheriff Kem Kimbrough and son Fayette County sheriff’s Lt. Toby Daly with a keepsake sign duplicated from the one posted on the road that connects Poston Road and Tara Boulevard behind the Harold R. Banke Justice Center.
JONESBORO — Gone but not forgotten — the hope of everlasting immortality, an endurance to stand the test of time.
It was with that sentiment that friends and family of slain Clayton County sheriff’s Deputy Rick Daly gathered Friday morning behind the Harold R. Banke Justice Center — a complex that houses the courthouse, jail and sheriff’s office — to pay tribute to his memory.
The road that leads into the Justice Center from Tara Boulevard, meanders around the jail and behind the sheriff’s office to Poston Road was renamed Deputy Rick Daly Memorial Boulevard. Daly’s mother, Joyce Daly, wife Cheryl, daughter Amber Wright and son Fayette County sheriff’s Lt. Toby Daly and other relatives attended.
Joyce Daly spoke for the family, telling the crowd her son would be embarrassed by the attention.
“If Ricky were here, he’d say, ‘Y’all silly people,’” she said. “He never wanted to be praised. But this is for every fallen officer to ever fall when going out to protect citizens.”
Daly, 55, was shot and killed July 20, 2011, during a traffic stop in a quiet Riverdale subdivision, becoming the first countywide officer in Clayton to die by gunfire in the line of duty. The shooter was convicted and is awaiting sentencing Aug. 9. Prosecutors are expected to ask for life plus 75 years in prison.
The first municipal police officer in Clayton County to be shot and killed while on duty was Forest Park police Officer Richard Cash. Cash, 25, died Jan. 3, 1996, after being shot during a traffic stop. Officials there named Cash Memorial Boulevard in his honor.
Sheriff’s Chaplain Stan Owen also addressed the crowd and talked about the value of a name.
“The value of one’s name is found in proportion to one’s character,” said Owen. “The lives he touched in the 55 years he walked the planet testifies to his character and his character being good. He lived those 55 years without realizing how much meaning he was attaching to his name.”
Owen said renaming the road to honor Daly affords the community an enduring legacy.
“We’re here to honor that name today because of the life Rick chose to live,” he said. “He won’t be forgotten. His death will not have been in vain.”
After the ceremony, Toby Daly said he is pleased with the renaming.
“For there to be a sign in memory to him that’s going to be here forever, I think that’s great,” he said.
It couldn’t be overlooked that Friday was the first anniversary of his dad’s death.
“I’m trying to stay busy today,” he said. “Of course, I think about him every day. Even though he was a law enforcement officer, I remember him as a dad. I have a lot of good memories of him because he was such a family man.”
Toby and wife Janaya recently welcomed a second son into their family. Newborn son Mason joins big brother Colton. Amber and husband Joshua Wright have three children, Madalyn, Marisa and Matthew.
Clayton Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said he had mixed feelings about the anniversary.
“As a leader, I’m trying to maintain focus on the positive and focus on the family,” he said. “Personally, I have mixed feelings. I didn’t even dream something like this would ever happen. It hurt me to my heart. There was an overflow of emotions that is fresh again today. I know it’s tough for a lot of people.”
Part of remaining positive is the belief that Daly’s death happened for a reason.
“I gotta believe this was all for a purpose,” said Kimbrough. “We just gotta find it.”
He is also angry at people who have politicized Daly’s death, using it as a campaign platform, but without naming names.
“People who play politics with it are totally insensitive,” he said. “This is a serious business and it aggravates the hell out of me. People like that are despicable. They don’t give a flip about this family or the law enforcement family. It’s just ‘me, me, me, I, I, I.’ Ricky didn’t serve every day for this crap. He ministered to people, he served and protected, and that’s what we have to focus on.”