Thousands gather to celebrate life of Cst. Daniel Woodall in regimental funeral
Published Wednesday, June 17, 2015 9:25AM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 17, 2015 6:57PM MDT
More than a week after Edmonton Police Service officer, Constable Daniel Woodall, was killed in the line of duty – thousands of officers from around the world gathered in Edmonton to honour the fallen officer.
Starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, thousands marched in the funeral procession for Cst. Woodall, while thousands more lined the route through Edmonton’s downtown – starting at the Alberta Legislature Grounds, heading north down 107 Street to Jasper Avenue, then turning east on Jasper Avenue to 95 Street, before turning south on 95 Street to Grierson Hill.
There, the procession would end at the Shaw Conference Centre, where the regimental funeral would start at 11:30 a.m.
The main hall at the Shaw Conference Centre was full of officers from a number of different agencies – including the Greater Manchester Police Service, where Woodall served between 2002 and 2006 before moving with his family to Edmonton.
Prior to the funeral, Woodall’s widow Claire released a short statement, thanking Edmontonians:
“There are really no words great enough to express my love and gratitude to the city of Edmonton. You have shown so much love and support to myself, my family, and all first responders. We will be forever grateful. I am lucky to call Edmonton my home. Thank you. From my family to yours.”
In addition, Woodall’s parents David and Denise Woodall released a statement of their own:
“We would like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and thoughts at this very sad time. Dan was the light of our lives and the people of Edmonton have taken to him like one of their own. Thank you again, we love you all.”
During the regimental funeral ceremony, speakers included the Chaplains from the Edmonton Police Service and City of Edmonton, and Woodall’s friends.
Dave Ainsworth delivered a eulogy, highlighting the early years of Woodall’s time as a police officer in Manchester.
“My first thoughts of him were that he looked like a 12-year-old in uniform,” Ainsworth said, going on to say Woodall’s biggest fear was letting Ainsworth down – and said “He had my back, and I had his.”
Ainsworth said his friend would be missed for his “quick wit and terrible sense of humour”.
Another friend, and member of the New York Police Department, Michael Catlin spoke next.
Catlin said he and Woodall met at a conference in Calgary in 2014, and became fast friends.
Catlin read a letter he wrote to Claire Woodall shortly after Woodall’s death, describing the different sides of his friend he had seen in their time together.
The officer described Woodall’s love of science fiction, movies and driving his Jeep and their shared love of police work.
Finally, Catlin spoke about a more personal side of Woodall, describing how the officer beamed when he saw his family.
Mayor Don Iveson spoke next, and talked about how Edmontonians responded to Woodall’s death.
“We have adopted you as family, because that’s what Edmonton is all about,” Iveson said to Claire Woodall.
Iveson broke down as he talked about the fallen officer – and thanked the family for “sharing Dan with all of us”.
“Our police go about their work every day, often taken for granted, and yet these men and women are some of our finest,” Iveson said.
The final speaker in Wednesday’s ceremony was Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht, who talked about Woodall’s work as an officer, calling him an honest man who never wanted anything other than to be a police officer.
“He helped those that were abused or bullied by others,” Knecht said, talking about Woodall’s time in the Hate Crimes Unit.
“He served faithfully, modestly and proudly.”
Knecht then talked about the response from Edmontonians to Woodall’s death.
“The days have been ragged and emotional,” Knecht said.
“The positive energy has lifted us all during these very dark days. It is goodness that must continue,” Knecht continued.
Knecht also referenced an upcoming anniversary, as the funeral took place days before police plan to mark 25 years since the last time an Edmonton Police Service officer was slain in the line of duty – the death of Ezio Faraone.
“Twenty-five years from now, we will gather to remember Dan Woodall,” Knecht said.
The funeral ended with Knecht presenting the flag, along with the Sam Browne belt and Forage Cap from Woodall’s casket to Claire Woodall, before the casket was carried out of the hall.
Outside of the Shaw Conference Centre, thousands gathered to watch the funeral on big screens set up throughout the downtown core.