Hundreds gather for Ofc. Shawn Smiley’s visitation - CBS46 News

Hundreds gather for Ofc. Shawn Smiley’s visitation

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Officer Shawn A. Smiley Officer Shawn A. Smiley

Many of the people who came to Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home knew Officer Shawn Smiley, but for others he was a complete stranger. 

They came to honor a man who sacrificed his life protecting the citizens of Atlanta.

One man, Donald Queen, said he met Smiley two days before he died.

"I met him once, at the school where my granddaughter goes and his daughter still goes," Queen said. "We talked, shook hands, he said ‘I will see you later,' and that was the end of the conversation."

Queen said what caught his attention about Smiley was the way he carried himself, and something else.

"He moved me when I saw him helping those children fold the flag, and he said he had done it many times before, and that is what touched me," Queen said.

Smiley and his pilot, Richard Halford, were searching southwest Atlanta on Saturday, Nov. 3, for a missing child when their helicopter crashed. Both men died at the scene.

The National Transportation Safety Board said their investigation into what caused the helicopter to clip power lines on the ground could take up to a year to complete.

Smiley was a husband and father of three small children. He was described by his colleagues as an up-and-coming pilot in the Atlanta Police Department's Air Unit.

Eric Jensen, who was part of a motorcade that came to Smiley's visitation, said he it was a great honor to be involved.

"These guys were stand-up officers, great pilots and so it is sad to lose them," Jensen said.  "The family is going to miss them dearly, and right now all we can do is come out here and show our support."

Smiley's funeral is Saturday at 11 a.m. It will be held at First Baptist Church of Atlanta at 4400 North Peachtree Rd. in Atlanta.

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