Hundreds of law enforcement officers from South Florida and other jurisdictions gathered at loanDepot park Wednesday morning for memorial services for Miami-Dade police officer Cesar Echaverry, who was killed last week in the line of duty.
Officers could be seen lining the path of the hearse, blocking streets and saluting the hearse as it proceeded to loanDepot park.
Motor officers accompanied the hearse from the funeral home in a solemn procession that started at 9:30 a.m.
The family of the fallen officer was seated in the middle of the park wearing white shirts with the name “Echy” on their backs.
Services at the park began at 10 a.m., as the hearse arrived inside the park and as the flag-covered casket was rolled out and accompanied by pallbearers made up of police officers, to the sound of bagpipes and the salute of every officer in attendance.
The memorial started with harp-playing and the singing of Amazing Grace and the presentation of the colors by the honor guard, the Pledge of Allegiance, and an invocation.
Governor Ron DeSantis, Lt. Jeanette Núñez, US Senator Marco Rubio, and other elected leaders, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava were in attendance.
Levine Cava was the first speaker to honor the memory of the fallen officer. “We are gathered here today to remember the life and sacrifice of Echy.”
“You are forever in my prayers,” she said as she addressed the Echaverry family.
Pastor Alberto Delgado of Miami’s Alpha & Omega Church followed the mayor to the podium and delivered the eulogy.
The eulogy was followed by remarks made by Chairman of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners Jose ‘Pepe’ Diaz.
“Today is a sad day as we are gathered here to say goodbye to this hero, who lost his life serving this community.”
Fellow officers, a firefighter friend and his sister Sandra took to the stage next with moving tributes to remember “Echy.”
“There are no words that can truly honor your existence. You were a hero in my eyes from a very young age. I cried when you were born and I cried as you left this world. You were my smile in the midst of my confusions. You looked up to me and I looked up to you. I admired your great heart, your discipline and your strength and your courage,” said Sandra.
Echy’s fiancée, Stephanie Vargas spoke next and talked about how and when they met and how he proposed to her in the “most romantic way possible” at the Fairchild Gardens.
“Cesar was the man I always hoped I would marry. His love for me and his family was unconditional. He always had a huge smile and was quick to help anyone around. He was a hard worker and took a lot of pride in his work,” she said.
We also heard from two prominent people in law enforcement.
“He put his life on the line… and he made the ultimate sacrifice… he gave up his life to protect others,” said South Miami Police Chief Rene Landa.
“It’s very important to honor fallen officer,” said South Miami Assistant Police Chief Charles Nanney. “First it is important for their families and then citizens have to know that cops are people too.”
Nanney had worked in the RID unit during his career spending decades with Miami-Dade police.
Echaverry was also one of Nanney’s students when he taught at FIU in 2015.
A photo-montage tribute showing images from Echy’s everyday life was shown on the stadium’s large screens.
MDPD director Freddy Ramirez then took to the stage.
“Despite the pain, it is important to honor Echy’s life, his courage and his contributions to our community. For those of you who didn’t have the honor or privilege to know this young man, he is what every young parent would want his child to be. Humble, good-hearted, compassionate and hard-working. A very truly genuine soul.”
After that, everyone in attendance was asked to remain standing for the final honors, which included the playing of Taps and the ceremonial folding of the US flag, which had covered Echy’s casket.
That flag was then presented to Director Ramirez, who then, in turn, presented it to Echy’s mom.
“Now, we will hear a radio transmission that will be transmitted across the entire Miami-Dade County, signifying the completion of officer Cesar Echaverry’s duties,” said MDPD spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta. “Echy, we’ll take it from here, brother,” he added. Then, the stadium turned silent as the “End of watch” call could be heard over the loudspeakers.
After the memorial service, a private motorcade carrying Echaverry’s casket headed to Miami Executive Airport, where the family was to accompany “Echy” to Nicaragua.
Echaverry, 29, was shot last Monday night, August 15, while trying to arrest a suspect tied to an armed robbery in Dania Beach. He was taken to Jackson Memorial where he died on the following Wednesday.
Officer Echaverry died in the line of duty while serving & protecting our community,” said Ramirez in a statement. “We’ll never forget Officer Echaverry’s bravery & sacrifice. Godspeed, brother.”
Echaverry is the first officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty under both Mayor Daniela Levine Cava and Director Ramirez.
South Florida PBA President Steadman Stahl told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “It is heartbreaking and he now walks with angels. We pray for his family and will help them cope with what is going on right now. It is devastating. Anytime you lose an officer it is devastating what has happened. It is also gut-wrenching and crushing to a lot of people right now. The honor guard is a way of showing our respect and it won’t end here. It won’t end with this procession today. It’s going to be followed up with his funeral and he is not going to be forgotten for his sacrifice to this community.”
Echaverry was with the department’s Robbery Intervention Detail or RID, which works in some of the county’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods.
Echaverry is the 24th Miami-Dade officer in the department’s history to die after a shootout. He is the first South Florida police officer killed since Hollywood police officer Yandy Chirino was shot to death on October 18, 2021.
The last Miami-Dade police officers to die in a shootout with a suspect were Detectives Amanda Haworth and Roger Castillo. They were shot and killed in 2011 while trying to arrest a fugitive. That shooting was about half a mile from where Echaverry was shot.
DeSantis ordered flags flown at half-staff at the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Miami-Dade County Courthouse and the City Hall of Miami from sunrise to sunset.