COLUMBIA — A memorial honoring Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson brought comfort to his loved ones but also reminded them of their pain.
“This was wonderful,” Wilda Hawkins, who baby-sat for Richardson for about three years during his childhood in Aiken, said after Wednesday’s ceremony at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. “It brought it all back, though. That’s the only thing."
Richardson, 33, suffered a fatal gunshot wound Dec. 20, during an evening traffic stop at the entrance of Pace’s Run apartments on Brandt Court in Aiken. The married father of three had been with the Aiken Department of Public Safety for 12 years.
Richardson’s name, and the names of others who died last year in the line of duty – Sumter Police Cpl. Chuck Nesbitt Jr., and Laurens County Deputy Roger Rice Jr. – were to be added to the wall of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame.
It was part of the state’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial, which drew hundreds of uniformed law enforcement officers, family and friends, along with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel.
Gov. Nikki Haley did not attend the memorial but sent a proclamation, which was read during the ceremony.
Though Hawkins said the memorial brought back the pain of Richardson’s death, she was also reminded of the years she baby-sat him in Aiken. He was a child who “laughed at everything” and was involved in sports, said Hawkins, who now lives in Columbia.
Hawkins said her parents and Richardson’s parents were best friends, and treated one another like family.
“My father, when he was retired, he would look forward to Scotty coming to his house after he had played to get water. It was better at my daddy’s house than at his house or anybody else’s,” Hawkins said. “So he went there to get his drink, and he would sit there and talk with my dad.”
Richardson’s brother, Ken, and other family members attended the ceremony.
“It was good to be with the law enforcement officers,” said Ken Richardson, of Aiken. “They make you feel very welcome and they always have.”
He said the memorial helped honor his brother but added, “It’s a long healing process.”
At his side, his father, Richard Richardson, said only that the ceremony was “very pleasing.”
Aiken Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jake Mahoney said the day’s emphasis on a law enforcement family spoke to the sense of pride and the intense risk that the loved ones of law enforcement share. He also recalled his nearly 10 years working with Richardson.
“Scotty was a rock star,” Mahoney said. “You were drawn to him, his personality, his character. ... I never heard a negative comment or cross word about him, never heard a complaint from him.”
At the memorial, loved ones of the other fallen officers, Nesbitt and Rice, were also thanked for their shared sacrifice.
Nesbitt, who served in Sumter for 10 years, died Jan. 21 in a head-on car accident near Rembert, S.C., after taking a prisoner to the State Department of Juvenile Justice.
Rice was with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office for 18 months when he was fatally wounded by a gunman July 14. He and other officers had been searching for a man who was suspected of killing his girlfriend.
“The adding of these names to ‘the wall’ will never compare with the supreme sacrifices these officers gave to the citizens of South Carolina,” said Jarrod Bruder, the director of the state Law Enforcement Officers Association.
The ceremony, which was announced by the association, paid tribute to officers who died in the line of duty last year and others who were still active or retired last year when they passed away.
In January, the Aiken community suffered another loss. Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers was shot to death while responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle.
Reach Sarita Chourey at (803) 727-4257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.