Community says goodbye to one of NOPD's best - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Community says goodbye to one of NOPD's best

Updated:
NOPD officers salute as the coffin of Officer Rodney Thomas leaves the church. NOPD officers salute as the coffin of Officer Rodney Thomas leaves the church.

New Orleans, La. — Hundreds turned out in the Gentilly neighborhood for a final goodbye for an NOPD officer killed by a hit-and-run driver early Sunday.

Officer Rodney Thomas, 52, was remembered as a dedicated officer who was eager to help others.

Members of the NOPD carefully carried the coffin of Officer Thomas into the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Friday morning.

"Incredibly sad for the city of New Orleans and for Rodney Thomas' family. We all know and recognize the great contributions that Rodney made. He had a reputation of having a smile every day, saying a prayer before every meal, helping every officer no matter what the need was," said NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City Council members and law enforcement from around the region turned out to honor the memory of Officer Thomas.

"He came on right before Katrina. I knew him, we crossed paths many, many times. He was a wonderful officer, he was exactly the kind of officer that we wanted," said Mayor Landrieu.

"I'm here today to support our brother law enforcement agency, the New Orleans Police Department. We work very closely with them, day in and day out, we feel their pain... we feel pain and vice versa," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.

Police say Officer Thomas was run down after being involved in a minor accident on Interstate 10 and got out to make sure everyone was okay.

"After Rodney was on the high rise, with his vest on directing traffic, think of the simple task he was trying to accomplish - he was trying to make sure nobody else got hurt," said Serpas.

Serpas said letters are coming into the department, written by citizens to offer their accounts of how Officer Thomas assisted them over the years. Serpas spoke specifically about a letter received Thursday.

"The writer simply said we were in an unusual circumstance and Rodney came, he helped us, he was professional, he was courteous," the chief stated.

Serpas said those responsible for Officer Thomas's death will definitely be held accountable by the criminal justice system.

"The persons that ran him over and killed him are going to pay a deep price," Serpas told news media before heading into the funeral.

"We hadn't even gotten to the funeral yet and some of the offenders are out on bond already. That's a little distasteful for me as well, you know. It really creates a gut check for the community at large," said Sheriff Normand.

Three people have been arrested and police want to speak to two persons of interest as the investigation into the hit-and-run fatality continues.

As the flag-draped coffin was carried out of the church, dozens of children waved flags.

"Rodney's life made a difference and we will never forget those differences, and this is what this is about," said Serpas.

Officer Thomas is survived by his wife, a son and daughter and his mother. He was buried in Lake Lawn Park Mausoleum.

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