CANTON (NCPR) - Thousands of law enforcement officials and community members gathered at Fort Drum Saturday afternoon to mourn the loss of New York State Trooper Joel Davis.
Davis was responding to a domestic incident last week when police say he was shot and killed by Justin Walters, a soldier based at Fort Drum. Walters was also charged with killing his wife, Nichole Walters, and shooting her friend Rebecca Finkle, who was treated and released from the hospital.
Funeral-goers mourned Trooper Davis’ passing and celebrated his life and service. The mood was solemn as row after row of New York State Troopers, along with law enforcement officials from around the country, stood at attention to honor their fallen colleague.
A motorcade, officers on horseback, and the State Trooper Pipe and Drum band led the funeral procession as it wound slowly towards the entrance of Magrath Sports Complex at Fort Drum.
Jefferson County Sherriff’s office chaplain Father Christopher Carrara welcomed mourners.
“Your loss is our loss,” he said, “and our lives are better for having known Joel.”
Davis served with Troop D in Philadelphia. He was remembered as honest, fair, and beloved by his colleagues and the people he served.
“It was not a paycheck that led Trooper Davis to respond to those women and children in peril,” Father Carrara said. “It was his dedicated service to our community. It was doing what was right. If you will, it was love.”
Trooper Davis was also deeply involved in community life. He coached sports, and was commissioner of the Evans Mills Youth Baseball League.
Pastor Shane Ryan remembered Davis as a devoted husband, son and brother, as a man who loved mini-golf, music and dancing, and “as a loving dad who would do anything for his children.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo attended the funeral. And officers came from all over the nation came to pay their respects. Sgt. Lonnie Carpenter is with the West Virginia State Police.
“We have to show our support,” Sgt. Carpenter said. “Their family has to know that they’re part of a bigger family than the people they see every day.”
That idea of a larger human family, said Pastor Shane Ryan, provides a way to stay hopeful during a devastating time.
“In this line of work it seems like we walk a lot of places we don’t want to walk. July 9 was one of those walks,” the pastor said. “Being at the hospital when Joel’s family arrived was one of the most awful experiences that you could imagine. But we can realize that we never walk alone.”
Davis is survived by his parents, his three children, his brother, his wife Suzanne Davis, and numerous other extended family. He was buried at Brookside Cemetery in Watertown on Saturday afternoon.
Services for Nichole Walters were held on Sunday. Justin Walters is charged with first and second-degree murder. He’s being held without bail.