Hundreds line roadways to pay respects to fallen trooper
Hundreds lined the roadways of Madison and Ridgeland on Tuesday to pay their respects and witness the funeral procession of state trooper John Martin Harris pass.
Sidewalks along U.S. were full. Many were waving American flags, taking pictures with their phones and stood with their hands over their hearts as the hearse passed.
Harris was struck and killed by a dump truck west of Canton Friday afternoon during a routine traffic stop. (See story, Page 1A.)
Kevin Stacy, a Madison resident who held a flag and wore an American flag-patterned vest, said he was there to show his respect and appreciation for the danger law enforcement officers put themselves in every day.
“I didn’t know the man but he put his life on the line for everybody and he deserves some respect,” Stacy said. “It is the right thing to do.”
Amy McGill, another bystander out to show her appreciation, said she had lived in Madison for 28 years. She said her husband and daughter work as first responders and her family has served in the military going at least back to the Civil War.
“This hits close to home,” McGill said. “I wanted to come out and show some respect and support.”
She said that she knows Madison and the surrounding communities will help Harris’ family in any way they can.
Jennifer Wooten brought her daughter, Rosemary, a rising seventh-grader at Madison Ridgeland Academy, to Tuesday’s procession. She said she knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for her daughter and a potent visual of the importance of community and civic engagement.
“I wanted her to feel and experience the sense of community that this represented,” Wooten said. “When a community has lost someone that serves and protects us it is important to pay respect and I thought this was a once in a lifetime moment.”
Wooten said that she had not seen such an “outpouring of love and respect” and said the tit is important to teach children to honor and respect those who serve the community.
“This was a moving experience,” Wooten said. “At 47 I have never seen anything quite like it.”
Rosemary said that the experience was something she would not soon forget and was left with an image that made an impression on her.
“I have never seen so many cars,” she said.
Canton Animal Control Officer TchiaKousky Williams Sr. said he had only known John Martin Harris for three years but Harris left a lasting impression on him.
Williams said he first met Harris at Mazzio’s Pizza place where he and fellow Madison County officers would sometimes gather for lunch.
“I saw this big muscular guy and I was like, who is that?’” Williams said. “Being an animal control officer, some other officers sometimes look down on me. He never looked down at me. He shook my hand like we had known each other for years and sat down with us and laughed and joked.”
Williams said over the years he further got to know Harris through such lunch meetings and through seeing him around in the community.
Williams recalled running into Harris in the parking lot of Walmart one time where Harris saw him sitting in his car and came over and knocked on the car window and brought his wife and children over to introduce them to him.
“He was just a great guy,” Williams said.
Williams said he heard the dispatch call last Friday that a Trooper had been injured and he immediately thought of Harris hoping it was not him.
“I had only known him three years,” Williams said. “I can’t imagine how people who have known him longer must feel.”
Williams said he will always remember Harris’ example.
“No matter how big you get, treat people with respect,” Williams said, adding he will always give people that strong, firm handshake he learned from Harris.