RICHMOND — The parking lot outside Eastern Kentucky University's Alumni Coliseum was a sea of blue and gray Wednesday as hundreds of law enforcement officers joined the city of Richmond in saying goodbye to officer Daniel Neil Ellis.
Ellis, 33, was shot while investigating a robbery last Wednesday. He died at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital Friday.
"When Daniel sank his teeth into something he just wouldn't let it go. That's what he was doing last week," Richmond Police Chief Larry Brock said during the funeral Friday.
"Our lives will never be the same again, the lives of his fellow officers and of his family will never be the same."
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Ellis started at the department on Aug. 11, 2008. He had recently been promoted and was set to begin duty as a detective for the Richmond Police Department soon.
"He turned out to be a great police officer. He was one of those guys that just got it and got it early," Brock said.
Ellis treated people with dignity and respect, even when he was arresting them, Brock said.
Phillip Shumake, minister of East End Church of Christ in Lexington, relayed a story that Ellis' wife, Katie, had told him.
While on duty one day, Ellis had seen a man in business clothes walking down the road carrying a tent. When asked, the man told Ellis that he had a job interview in the morning and didn't know a way to get there other than spending the night in a tent nearby.
Ellis paid to get him a room, Shumake said.
"Underneath his badge was a heart full of kindness," Shumake said in the eulogy.
Daniel and Katie Ellis graduated from EKU, where most of the coliseum's 7,000 seats were filled. They have a son, Luke Michael, 4.
In addition to first responders and other community members in the crowd were teachers from Madison Central High School, where Katie Ellis is an assistant principal.
"If there has been one small sliver of light in this black cloud it has been the support of our community," Brock said.
People lined the road as hundreds of police cruisers and family vehicles began the 100-mile route to Adair County, where Ellis was buried.
"We just feel like, being a part of this community, it is our job to show our support for our local heroes," said Cathy Wall of Richmond, who watched the procession with family.
Police vehicles in the procession from dozens of agencies around the country took almost an hour to pass.
"I think it's been amazing standing here watching today the police officers from all of the different places. We've seen them from as far away as Maryland," Wall said.
Ellis had been investigating an attempted robbery at the Gulf station on Main Street in Richmond when he was shot in the head last Wednesday.
The investigation had led Ellis to Gregory Ratliff's apartment on Ballard Drive in Richmond that morning in search of Raleigh Sizemore Jr., 34.
Sizemore took a gun and hid in a bedroom with Rita Creech, 44, police said.
Ratliff has since admitted lying to Ellis, telling him that no one was in the home and that there were no weapons in the apartment, according to police records.
Sizemore admitted to shooting Ellis when he entered the bedroom, according to police. Sizemore also fired at two officers that tried to help Ellis, police said.
At the funeral Brock praised the officers at the shooting for "behaving professionally and heroically. They showed great restraint."
Sizemore, who was released from the hospital, has been charged with murder of a police officer. He pleaded not guilty Monday.
Ratliff was charged with complicity.
Sizemore previously served three years of a 10-year sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine and first-degree criminal mischief, according to state corrections records.
Since Ellis' death, the city of Richmond has been lit blue as the community supported the family.
As the sound of bagpipes ended and Ellis' American-flag draped coffin was carried from the coliseum, officers saluted and community and family members wiped tears from their eyes.
"I want to thank the Ellis family for the sacrifice they are making for us," Wall said. "He is a true hero."
In addition to his wife and son, Ellis is survived by his parents, Kelly and Nancy West Ellis; two brothers; a sister; and his paternal grandmother.