Local law enforcement officers ride to honor fallen Marion County corporal, Florence airport officer

Local law enforcement officers ride to honor fallen Marion County corporal, Florence airport officer

FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A local group of law enforcement officers honored the lives of their fallen brothers and sisters during National Police Week.

The group bike rides every year from one city in the U.S. to Washington D.C. where the Law Enforcement Memorial is located. This year they were planning to ride from Montgomery, Alabama to D.C., but coronavirus put a stop to those plans.

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Instead, they rode from Manning to Sumter and then to the Florence Regional Airport to honor Marion County Cpl. Michael Latu and Florence Regional Airport Officer Jackson Winkeler.

It’s important to us cause we do this every year to make sure the families and the survivors of the officers that were killed, they know we’re not forgetting their officer, whether it be this year, previous years, many years down the road,” said Florence County Sheriff’s Office Inv. Ben Price, who helps to organize the ride.

Latu was killed in a crash in December while responding to a call for service. His name will be etched in stone at the Law Enforcement Memorial in D.C.

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Due to the coronavirus, many are not able to physically visit the memorial this year, but people can take a virtual tour and also honor the fallen officers through a candlelight vigil where you can light a virtual candle in honor of Latu.

Winkeler was shot and killed in January during a traffic stop at the Florence Regional Airport. Along with being an officer, he was a volunteer firefighter with the Dillon County Fire Department in Latta for five years.

Winkeler’s pastor said he had just passed his law enforcement exam and was set to start the Criminal Justice Academy soon.

James Edward Bell, 37, is charged in Winkeler’s death.

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