Remembering West Michigan officers killed in the line of duty

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- West Michigan has seen its share of fallen officers.

While the death of an officer is always shocking and devastating to the community, departments, and families, every time this kind of monumental loss happens, it shows the kind of impact these people have on their neighborhoods. and the entire state of Michigan.

The most recent loss is Ingham County Sheriff’s Deputy Grant Whitaker. He died during a pursuit when his car crashed off the road in Stockbridge. Whitaker was only 25 years old.

In September of 2013, Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield was shot and killed by Eric Knysz during a traffic stop in Mason County,  just minutes after he began his shift. Trooper Butterfield was 43 years old and engaged to be married. His killer committed suicide in prison, and Knysz's wife is currently serving time for her role in the crime.

In 2011, Walker Police officer Trevor Slot was killed while laying down road spikes along I-96 to stop a pair of bank robbers. Both of those suspects were killed by police. Officer Slot was 41 years old, and a stretch of that highway has been named in his honor.  There's also a scholarship set up in his name.

Just months before Officer Slot’s death, In April of 2011, Kalamazoo Public Safety officer Eric Zapata was killed while responding to a call of shots fired.  The suspect, Leonard Statler, shot Zapata in the chest and head before turning the gun on himself. Officer Zapata was recently honored in a piece at this year's ArtPprize competition.

In 2007 Grand Rapids Police Officer Bobby Kozminski was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call. He was just 29 years old.  His killer was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2005, Detective Lavern Brann was shot during a homicide investigation. It was the first time a Battle Creek officer was shot to death in the line of duty.

That same year, Mattawan police officer Scott Beyerstedt crashed his patrol car into a tree while chasing a reckless driver on I-94. He died the next day.

In 2003, Michigan State Police Trooper Kevin Marshall was shot and killed during a barricade situation in Fremont that involved a militia member.

He was 33 years old and was the 49th trooper in MSP history to be killed in the line of duty.

In all, 570 law enforcement officials and two police K-9 unit dogs have been killed in the line of duty in the state of Michigan since 1791.

There are several resources for the loved ones of fallen law enforcement members. One of those is the Thin Blue Line of Michigan, a non-profit that helps families with funeral stipends, medical equipment, and counseling.

For more information click here.

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