Cleveland pays final respects to Officer Justin Maples
CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -- There was a final farewell Thursday for a Cleveland Police officer, who died in the line of duty. Officer Justin Maples was responding to a call for assistance Sunday night, when he crashed his patrol car on South Lee Highway.
His family, friends, fellow officers and the community gathered to remember Officer Maples' life and to salute him as he was carried to his final resting place.
It was a large outpouring of love and support, as the Cleveland community filled the First Baptist Church to pay their respects to Officer Maples and his family.
His loved ones and co-workers say he will be remembered for making the ultimate sacrifice. But his devotion to family and community, speaks volumes about the man he truly was.
Fellow officers stood at attention as pallbearers carried the body of Officer Justin Maples into First Baptist Church.
Once inside, his wife, Danielle, explained to their five-year-old son, Jace, everyone was there to honor his dad.
"Jesus says there's no greater love than a man who lays down his life for his friends," said Mayor Tom Rowland.
And while Maples is being remembered for laying down his life, those closest to him say there was much more beyond the badge.
"We gather not to say goodbye to, but to celebrate the life of a son, a brother, a husband, a father. A friend. And one of the finest police officers that Cleveland has ever had the privilege of knowing," said Cleveland Police Chief Wes Snyder.
Thirty-five-year-old Maples was President of the Cleveland Fraternal Order of Police and a member of the Cleveland SWAT Team. He was also a 5th-degree black belt in Jiu Jitsu.
Maples was attending Bethel University to further his education and had just been accepted to join the Air National Guard.
"No Chief ever plans, imagines or likes to think about burying one of the guys on his team," said Snyder.
Most importantly, Chief Snyder says, Maples was devoted to his family and a true man of God.
"This past Sunday, May the 20th of 2012, Justin began his day by taking his family to church."
Snyder said he admires Maples for his great faith and hopes all others, including his family, friends and community can take some comfort, knowing he is surrounded by Amazing Grace.
Maples' wife, Danielle, accepted the Purple Heart Award from the Bradley County Sheriff's Office on her husband's behalf.
The organization, 'Cleveland 100,' which provides financial assistance to the loved ones of emergency personnel, plans on giving each of Maples' sons scholarships to attend college.
You can help with that effort by sending donations to the 'Justin Maples Fund' at the United Community Bank, 2525 Keith Street, NW, Cleveland, TN 37311.