Friday, November 19, 2010

Slain Officer Remembered as a "Cop's Cop"! (By Janet Zimmerman, Mark Muckenfuss, Alicia Robinson, and Brian Rokos) Nov. 17, 2010

Slain officer remembered as a 'cop's cop'

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08:10 AM PST on Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Final goodbyes as Officer Bonaminio is laid to rest
Final goodbyes as Officer Bonaminio is laid to rest
Published: 11/16/2010 08:01 PM

Video: Memorial for Officer Bonaminio

Photo Gallery: Ryan Bonaminio Funeral Service

Fallen Riverside police Officer Ryan Bonaminio was given a hero's goodbye Tuesday in a poignant service marked by standing ovations, military salutes and countless tears.

Thousands of law enforcement officers from as far away as Las Vegas and Sonoma turned out for the two-hour memorial at the Grove Community Church in Riverside, followed by a service at Riverside National Cemetery.

From the time the officer's flag-draped casket left the mortuary in the morning until it reached its final resting place almost five hours later, it was accompanied by a lengthy procession of patrol cars and motorcycles, their lights flashing.

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slain Riverside police Officer Ryan Bonominio memorial
Stan Lim/The Press-Enterprise
Riverside Police Department personnel form a cordon of honor as the casket of slain Riverside police Officer Ryan Bonaminio arrives at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside. Police Chaplain Steve Ballinger likened Bonaminio's life to a leg of a relay race: "He has placed that baton of life in our hands with his attitude. ... Ryan would say," 'Run.' "

The young man with the ever-present smile was remembered as a loving son and brother, an unusually focused and prepared soldier during two Army tours in the Middle East and, by his chief, as a "cop's cop" whose short four years on the force could serve as an example to his colleagues.

"Ryan knew from a young age he was supposed to be a great police officer. He fulfilled his purpose on earth. How many of us live two or three times as long ... without knowing our purpose?" Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said in an emotional eulogy. "Ryan has taught us how to live. With his death he inspires each of us to be better."

Bonamino's slaying 10 days ago -- police say probably with his own weapon by a hit-and-run suspect he had pursued -- has produced a deep reaction among officers and residents. His funeral drew a standing-room-only crowd of about 6,000, some of them friends, most of them strangers.

Officers and deputies came from throughout the state to pay homage to their brother. They said his death has put them on heightened alert about what can go wrong.

"We all do the same job. It could be any of us in the same situation," said a red-eyed Tiffany Emon, a San Bernardino police officer.

Hundreds of onlookers lined streets outside the church and on the route to the cemetery. Some parents kept their children out of school to watch the procession. They waved blue balloons and American flags and held homemade signs, including one that said: "Goodbye hero. We honor you. Thank you."

At the cemetery, a 21-gun volley and the playing of taps were followed by a folding ceremony for the flag draping Bonaminio's casket. The flag was then placed in his mother's hands.


Bonamino, 27, was shot on the night of Nov. 7. After he pulled over a stolen tractor-trailer cab, its driver jumped out and fled into Riverside's Fairmount Park. Bonaminio ran after him and was attacked and shot.

Earl Ellis Green, 44, of Rubidoux, was arrested two days later and Bonaminio's weapon was found during a search of places Green frequented. He has been charged with murder and is eligible for the death penalty. Green is in custody pending a psychological assessment. His arraignment is set for Dec. 16.

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slain Riverside police Officer Ryan Bonominio memorial
Mark Zaleski/The Press-Enterprise
Officer Bonaminio's father, Joe, spends a farewell moment at his son's casket during the burial ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery.

Bonaminio's mother, Gerri, shook her head and wiped her tears as the casket was moved from the hearse to the church. Bonaminio's fellow officers held a silent salute as the casket passed through a covered walkway and into the church.

About 3,000 people in overflow seating outside watched the ceremony on a giant TV. Images of Bonaminio as a toddler, a boy, a soldier and a police officer flashed on screen during a video tribute.

Later, Gerri Bonaminio told mourners, "Now my Ryan is free and he'll never be hurt again."

His father, Joe, and sister, Nikki, also spoke while his older brother, Christopher, stood with them on stage.

The family and friends remembered Bonaminio as polite and patient, with a sense of humor. They recalled a small-statured teen who joined Jr. ROTC at Ramona High School in Riverside with his sights set on a law enforcement career.

Despite the intensity of his jobs, from dodging enemy fire overseas to patrolling the streets of Riverside, he held onto his boyish qualities. Bonaminio loved to paint and dress small military figurines, collect G.I. Joes and play video games. And always, there was a smile on his face.

Sgt. Doug Spencer, who served in Iraq with Bonaminio, recalled their unit patrolling in 130-degree heat and sleeping in the sand.

"There's Ryan walking around with a big smile on his face. He loved to serve his country, he loved to serve Riverside. He was a man of honor. He was a true American hero," he said.

"Today, Ryan, you don't salute this nation, this nation salutes you," Spencer said, snapping off a salute. "I love you, Ryan."

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slain police Officer Ryan Bonaminio memorial
Mark Zaleski/The Press-Enterprise
Army personnel grieve at Officer Bonaminio's casket after the burial ceremony. The fallen officer served two Army tours in the Middle East before joining the Riverside force.

Sgt. Kevin Duxbury, who also served with Bonaminio in Iraq, said his friend was always one of the first to volunteer.

"At barely 20 he's still collecting G.I. Joes and playing video games, but there he was in downtown Baghdad with his game face on," Duxbury said.

The sergeant asked mourners to applaud Bonaminio. As one, they rose and clapped.


On a clear, sun-warmed morning, bystanders gathered on the streets to watch the miles-long procession from the mortuary to the church and cemetery. They came for a sense of belonging and respect, with children and neighbors in folding chairs waving at police and somberly holding signs. Under any other circumstances, they would have been cheering.

Bonaminio's death prompted a huge outpouring of support not only because he was a well-liked and conscientious young man who served overseas and at home, but because the killing happened in his hometown, Chief Diaz said.

C.J. Wilkins, an Azusa police officer, said it was because Bonaminio likely was shot with his own weapon.

"Being hurt by what you carry to work every day, that's scary," he said.

GeanetteTrumball and her four children sat on a hillside above the church, listening to outside speakers, then waved balloons at the procession. Her 10-year-old son, Kurt, dreams of going into the military and then becoming a police officer, she said.

"We talk about being a mom and loving your son, and how you're honored that they want to protect people," she said.

Onlookers lined Orange Terrace Parkway near Van Buren Boulevard as the hearse moved to the cemetery. An American flag fluttered between the raised ladders of two firetrucks.

Stella Paramo, her two daughters and two nieces named each department as its cars passed and thanked the officers.

"This is just overwhelming and beautiful. I've never seen anything like it," said Michelle Banks, whose husband is a Riverside police sergeant.

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slain Riverside police Officer Ryan Bonaminio memorial
Mark Zaleski/The Press-Enterprise
Joe Bonaminio and his wife, Gerri, shed tears after Gerri was given the flag that covered their son's casket. From left are Ryan's brother, Christopher, friend John Enriquez and sister, Nikki.

Officers waved to the crowd, and some took pictures as their squad cars passed. A female officer from the San Diego Police Department turned on her loudspeaker and said, "Thank you all for coming."

At the cemetery, under maple trees nearly bare of their last brittle leaves, a cordon of police officers stood shoulder-to-shoulder along the drive where the hearse arrived and along the curving walkway that led to the front of the amphitheater where the service took place.


Kyle Cook, 27, of Riverside, came with friends, all of whom knew Bonaminio. Cook said he went on a couple of ride-alongs with another Riverside police officer, Ryan McHugh, who worked the same beat as Bonaminio. Wherever they were called, Cook said, Bonaminio was quick to back them up.

"He was there like 10 seconds after we got there," Cook said. "We stopped a (Chevy) S-10 that had some known gang members. I was a little scared, but to watch them work. ... They were just fearless."

Riverside police Chaplain Steve Ballinger likened Bonaminio's life to a leg of a relay race.

"I would say that Ryan has run a good race. He has placed that baton of life in our hands with his attitude. ... Ryan would say, 'Run.' "

Overhead, a Navy gunship flew past before seven other helicopters in a V-formation rattled through the air. One helicopter peeled off toward the east as the rest flew north.

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slain police Officer Ryan Bonaminio memorial
Stan Lim/The Press-Enterprise
Riverside police Officers Scott Levesque, right, and Stacie Tedesco console each other at the end of Bonaminio funeral service.

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy led a riderless horse across the amphitheater's stage. Empty boots in the stirrups and a sword hung from the saddle all faced backwards, symbolizing the backward gaze of the fallen rider. A group of doves was released.

Joe Bonaminio then stepped forward and placed his hands on his son's casket. After a moment he stepped back, nodded his head and returned to his seat. After Chaplain Ballinger's closing remarks, Bonaminio stepped to the microphone.

"I want to say goodbye to my son," Bonaminio said. "Before I do that, I would like to thank each and every law enforcement agency that has come here today. It's a great honor that you bestow on my son."

He then turned to the casket.

"Yo, Brat," he said. "I've given you a candle to light the way on your journey."

He said he also had placed the book his son was reading and some green tea in the casket, and put a dollar in his pocket, "so they know you didn't die poor.

"There's 55 cents in there," he continued. "When you get to the end of your journey, your mother will be waiting, your father will be waiting, your brother will be waiting, your sister will be waiting. Please call home."

Staff writers Richard K. De Atley and Vanessa Franko contributed to this report.

ryan bonaminio, riverside police

Riverside police officer, Ryan Bonaminio, was killed while pursuing a hit-and-run suspect on November 7, 2010.

Special Section: The Death of Ryan Bonaminio

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