ROSEVILLE, Calif. (AP) — To her godfather, Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan was “marble wrapped in velvet.”
The 26-year-old rookie officer killed last week while answering a domestic violence call was tough but compassionate, Gary Roush said at her funeral service Thursday. She loved her family, friends and police colleagues, enjoyed helping people and from an early age knew she wanted a career in law enforcement, he said.
“She made every person she knew believe they were her best friend,” Roush said. “I was moved by that way she dealt with others, by the importance of people to her.”
She came from an exceptionally tightknit family and was such a lover of dogs that Roush joked he sometimes wondered which species she cared about more — “people or pooches.”
The service brought hundreds of officers from dozens of departments. And it brought parts of Sacramento to a halt, if only for a moment.
Families gathered along parts of the roughly 30-mile (48-kilometer) funeral procession following the service, waving American flags and pausing to pay their respects to a young officer who may never have patrolled their suburbs and bedroom communities but whose killing still touched them.
“Tara made a real difference in countless lives in just a short amount of time,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said.
Colleagues described O’Sullivan as someone destined for police work. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she was competitive, taking to sports at a young age and working toward a career in law enforcement when she was a teenager.
A graduate of Sacramento State University, she charted out a career with the police department of California’s capital city. O’Sullivan wanted to work on a K-9 unit, the mounted patrol, a gang unit, the SWAT team and someday be a captain, said Brent Kaneyuki, of the Sacramento police academy.
O’Sullivan was shot in what authorities described as an ambush while she helped a woman retrieve belongings from a home on June 19. It was 45 minutes before police got to O’Sullivan while a heavily armed gunman engaged in an hours-long standoff with officers before his capture.
O’Sullivan later died at a hospital. She was the first Sacramento police officer killed on the job in 20 years.
Adel Sambrano Ramos, who is charged in the shooting, made his first court appearance Monday. He is charged with murder, which could lead to the death penalty.
Ramos, 45, also is charged with the attempted murder of O’Sullivan’s training officer and illegally possessing two assault-style rifles. He has not entered a plea.