Detroit— Hundreds of mourners filed into Greater Grace Temple on Monday to honor fallen police Officer Patrick Hill, who died this month after several months in a coma.
But at the request of Hill’s wife, Deodge, most of those paying their respects at the northwest Detroit church wore colors other than black.
“She wanted it to be a celebration,” Detroit police spokeswoman Kelly Miner said. “She doesn’t want there to be mourning.”
Officials who attended Hill’s funeral saluted him as a brave and dedicated officer.
Mayor Dave Bing called Hill “a fallen hero.”
“During his life, he had the opportunity to compile a rich portfolio of experiences and accomplishments,” the mayor said.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said she was happy the family asked people not to wear black. She said she wore purple to honor “a great role model for all of us.”
“Today is a day of inspiration,” she said.
Police Chief James Craig, who took over the department in July, said he was saddened by “having to bear the loss of one of our beloved officers.”
“Patrick served with honor, and for a purpose far greater than himself,” the chief said, calling Hill “a real-life hero who put his life on the line every day to make our city safer. Officer Hill’s bravery and legacy will not be forgotten.”
Addressing Hill’s children, McQuade said: “Look around at all these police officers who are here today to honor your dad. Today we renew our commitment to do what he did so we can lay our heads down at night and feel safe.”
Hill, 37, a father of four and a 12-year department veteran, died Oct. 19 after being hit by friendly fire April 2 during a standoff with a murder suspect.
Police cars from agencies around Michigan could be seen outside the church for the funeral, including officers from Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Troy and Lansing.
After the service, bagpipers played as Hill’s casket, draped with the American flag, was brought out of the church. Officers lined Seven Mile, including members of the Detroit Police Mounted Unit.
Officer Jacob Liska, who attended the police academy with Hill in 2001, said Hill made a tough job easier with his sense of humor.
“There was always a smile on his face,” Liska said.
He and other officers attending the funeral wore black bands over their badges with the number 4674, Hill’s badge number.
“The smile on his face just lit up the room. He was a funny guy,” Liska said. “Not every day is a great day. He’d make it better.”
Liska said Hill’s wife wanted Monday to be a day of celebration. “That’s how Dee wanted it. She said, ‘Let’s celebrate who Patrick was,’ ” Liska said.
“It hurt me to lose a friend like this,” he said. “It’s crushed me. He loved being a police officer.”
Sgt. Michael DiCicco played travel softball with Hill, who played shortstop and third base for the Great Lakes Lawmen team. “He definitely loved the job,” DiCicco said. “He kept himself in good physical condition so he could do the job. He was a great dad: he brought his kids to the ball field and our wives would yell at us. I hope we celebrate his life and maybe tell a few stories.”
Hill was born in Southfield and graduated in 1994 from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, where he played football and baseball.
He went on to the University of Michigan, going out for the football team as a walk-on and graduating in December 1999. His partners on the Detroit force called him “Wolverine.”
Hill graduated from the police academy at the top of his class in August 2001 and joined the Detroit Police Department. He worked with the Department of Homeland Security as a sniper and was deputized as a special agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as a special agent in October 2012.
Hill was to be buried in Westlawn Cemetery in Wayne.