Apologies, folks -- this should have been posted a few days ago.
I spent some time last month interviewing residents, business owners and cops from the 35th District as the one-year anniversary of Officer Chuck Cassidy's murder loomed. While each of the officers who have been killed in the line of duty in the past two years have been appropriately praised and remembered, Cassidy sort of stood out to me for a variety of reasons.
For the most part, he was simply painted in news reports as a good, quiet cop who stayed on the force for 25 years. What seemed to be lost in all of the ensuing coverage of his murder -- and the white-knuckle hunt for his killer -- was the fact that he was so much more than just another guy with a badge and a gun.
I wanted to do an anniversary story that looked a little below the surface at who Cassidy was a man, cop, husband and father, and how his loss has permanently affected so many. Many thanks to the Cassidy family for wanting to be a part of the story as well.
In a city that has grown unthinkably familiar with burying slain police officers, Cassidy's death is still a painful open wound for a countless number of cops, friends, family members and average citizens who can't fill the void he left behind.
The 25-year veteran of the force had no idea that Lewis, then 21, was in the midst of robbing the Dunkin' Donuts on Broad Street near 66th Avenue on the morning of their fateful encounter. The doughnut shop was just one of more than a dozen businesses and schools Cassidy went out of his way to look after every day.
In the months that followed his slaying, it became clear to many that Cassidy was something of anomaly. He was a highly decorated officer who loathed praise and preferred gritty street work over a cushy office job.
He transcended stereotypes about the cynical nature of cops and made regular people in Olney, Logan, Fern Rock and West and East Oak Lane believe they all had a friend in blue.
Humble to a fault, he rarely told his family about his work-related accomplishments. He preferred goofing off with his kids, Katie, Colby and John, coaching their soccer and softball teams, and promising his wife, Judy, a life of travel and leisure whenever he got around to retiring.
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