Chief Daniel Hahn: ‘Angel officer ... thank you for your selfless service’
Memorial services for slain Sacramento Police officer Tara O’Sullivan have ended Thursday in Roseville and law enforcement from across the capital region and California are escorting her casket to Elk Grove in a procession across Sacramento County.
O’Sullivan, 26, was was killed in an “ambush” style attack, and is the first Sacramento Police officer killed in the line of duty since William Bean Jr. was killed in 1999.
“Tara loved life, people and police work,” her memorial service program read. “Although cut short, if asked today she wouldn’t have changed a damn thing.”
Her memorial service is being held at the Bayside Church Adventure Campus in Roseville, which also hosted in recent years funerals for fallen Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies Danny Oliver, Robert French and Mark Stasyuk.
Doors opened to the public at 9 a.m. at the Bayside Church Adventure Campus, which seats 2,850 people, and an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 mourners had arrived by 10. Police were directing attendees to Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin where at least 400 people came to an overflow viewing area.
Jen Kennedy, O’Sullivan’s high school photography teacher stood tearfully outside Bayside church as Pipes and Drums players prepared for the procession.
“She’s exactly that person,” Kennedy said, pointing to a photo of O’Sullivan on the cover of the program, showing her standing in her Sacramento police uniform at her academy graduation. In the photo, O’Sullivan is standing with her shoulders square, hands clasped in front of her and an ear-to-ear, disarming grin on her face.
That smile was plastered on O’Sullivan’s face every time she walked into Kennedy’s classroom, said the teacher, who drove from O’Sullivan’s hometown of Martinez on Thursday morning.
“She was lighthearted and fun, that’s why I say this was a person who wanted to serve the community,” Kennedy said. “That’s exactly the people we need in law enforcement.”
O’Sullivan’s plans to travel to Ireland and serve as maid-of-honor in her sister’s wedding were cut off, her godfather Gary Roush said. She loved traveling and dogs, especially her Mojo, Roush said.
Posthumous commemorations sometimes exaggerate the deceased’s positive traits. With O’Sullivan, Roush said, none of the praise being showered was embellished. Every person she met thought she was their best friend, Roush said, and people scarcely left a room wondering “was Tara there?”
“She was one of those rare people who devoured life, doing so while somehow maintaining strength and kindness in equal measure,” Roush said. “She had both an aggressive vigor and gentle touch. She was marble wrapped in velvet.”
O’Sullivan’s American flag-covered casket entered the church shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday memorial after a police escort from Elk Grove to Roseville that morning.
Once the memorial concludes, approximately 500 law enforcement vehicles from across the capital region and California will drive the 37-mile route from Bayside to Elk Grove, passing by the department’s station on Marysville Boulevard, where O’Sullivan worked.
The procession will leave the church around 1:15 p.m. and is expected to reach Elk Grove around 2:30 p.m.
O’Sullivan was hired by the Sacramento Police Department last year as a community service officer. She graduated from the police academy December 20, 2018.
She was part of the first class of graduates of Sacramento State’s Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars program in 2017. O’Sullivan was the only female among the first four graduates.
She was described as a “natural born leader” by an academy classmate Casey Claudius in a press conference last week at O’Sullivan’s alma mater, Sacramento State.
“That was the last person I expected to hear on the news as killed in the line of duty,” he said. “Everybody looked up to her.”
O’Sullivan was nearing the completion of her training as an officer at the Sacramento Police Department, police said. She was two weeks away from the last phase of her training in which an officer would shadow O’Sullivan to evaluate whether she was ready to go on patrol on her own, said Sgt. Vance Chandler, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department. She had been with the department for less than a year.
Sgt. Brent Kaneyuki, O’Sullivan’s academy leader, recalled an exercise when recruits were asked to write down what they wanted to do in law enforcement. Most listed one or two positions.
O’Sullivan wrote that she planned to be on the department’s SWAT, K-9, mounted, gang and a handful of other units. She hoped to be promoted up to sergeant, lieutenant and, one day, captain, Kaneyuki said.
The academy gym and physical training award will be renamed for O’Sullivan, Kaneyuki said. A memorial to her will be placed in the recruit classroom alongside one for Natalie Corona, the Davis Police Department who was killed in an ambush earlier this year.
Country musician Nick Tyrrel performed his 2017 single “Thin Blue Line” about a female police officer he met one night in a park.
Police believe O’Sullivan was fatally shot by Adel Sambrano Ramos, 45, as she tried to help an alleged domestic violence victim retrieve belongings from Ramos’ house in north Sacramento. Ramos then allegedly exchanged fire with police for about eight hours before surrendering.
In bodycam video released last week, O’Sullivan’s training officer, Daniel Chipp, can be seen approaching the detached garage of the home with his sidearm drawn. As he announces himself, rapid gunfire is unleashed behind him, hitting O’Sullivan.
Ramos had barricaded the door of his home and was allegedly lying in wait for the officers. Ramos fired at least 30 rounds at officers in a standoff that lasted nearly eight hours.
O’Sullivan was shot multiple times and one of her wounds was “non-survivable,” police said.
Officers responded to the scene within minutes, but were not authorized to attempt a rescue until more than 40 minutes later with the department’s BearCat, an armored vehicle.
O’Sullivan was transported by a patrol vehicle to UC Davis Medical where she was pronounced dead.
“Last Wednesday, evil showed its face in our city,” Chief Daniel Hahn said. “On this day, Tara and her partner responded. They responded to help someone in need, regardless of the circumstances. On this day, we lost an amazing person, an incredible officer and a presence in our city.”
Ramos made his first court appearance Monday, head wrapped in bandages protecting injuries officials say he inflicted on himself in the Sacramento County Jail. A carpenter with a history of domestic violence, he is due back in court on July 22.
O’Sullivan was previously memorialized at Sacramento State, from which she graduated in 2017, at a Sacramento Police Department graduation the day after her death and at a park in Sacramento’s Woodlake neighborhood Wednesday.
She is survived by her parents, Denis and Kelley O’Sullivan, and siblings, Justin and Krista, as well as her boyfriend Adam.
“Today we don’t have Tara physically, but she is with us. She is watching us,” Hahn said. “She is in our hearts forever, and evil can’t take that away from us.”
Donations to O’Sullivan’s family can be mailed to P.O. Box 276507, Sacramento, CA 95827 or sent online through a California Association Highway Patrol Credit Union memorial fund.
The Bee’s Michael McGough, Arden Barnes, Meghan Bobrowsky and Jaimie Ding contributed to this report.