Whittier Police Officer Keith Wayne Boyer, who was fatally shot after responding to a traffic crash, was remembered Friday by thousands of law enforcement officers, friends and family as a dedicated public servant, talented drummer, loving friend and even a “goofy” dad.
In a ceremony peppered with music, a video tribute, humorous anecdotes — and even forgiveness for the man accused of killing him — Boyer was hailed as a man who wasn’t afraid to make fun of himself, who kept a smile on his face and did what he could to make others do the same.
“My dad was goofy,” Boyer’s son, Joey, told the crowd at Calvary Chapel Downey. “And I mean the definition of dad jokes. He would always tell corny jokes and ridiculous pickup lines everywhere he went. One of his favorites was `Are you a parking ticket? Because you’ve got fine, fine, fine written all over you.’
But that was him. He was trying to bring a smile to everyone and he did. And I’m not going to lie. It was pretty embarrassing growing up with a man who kept fake gag teeth at the ready just for his sense of humor in his car.”
Joey Boyer described his father as a “hero, a guardian, a friend, a son and a great father.”
But amid the outpouring of grief and remembrance, Joey Boyer had words of forgiveness for the man who killed his father.
“God has given me the strength to forgive the man who did this,” he said. “To me it is not a man who did this but the evil of this world. This man was just a face. He is lost in his life and I pray one day he will soon find himself and change for the better. And I wish this for all in the world who are lost and need to find the light, because God always has his light on. We just need to search for it.”
Boyer’s son Joshua told the crowd about how the family two days ago had to drill into his father’s safe to get to the documents inside.
“We were expecting to find important documents, his life secrets, a pot of gold — we don’t know,” Joshua Boyer said. “My dad was a very private man. We pull some important papers and then we pull out this old cardboard box, and we’re thinking, `This is it. The secrets are about to be revealed. Is it his diary, is it his will? What mysteries are in this box?’ We open this box, and I kid you not, we start pulling out his magic secrets. Like, literally, magic tricks. Like all the ones he kept from us throughout the years that he never wanted to reveal.
… Dad, this is what you kept in your safe? Magic tricks? I half expected to start pulling on a handkerchief and keep pulling. But that was my dad. He was a goofball.”
The 53-year-old Boyer — a grandfather, musician and school resource officer who had been with the department 27 years — was killed shortly after 8 a.m. Feb. 20 after responding to a report of a traffic collision near Colima Road and Mar Vista Street, where one of the people involved in the crash pulled out a gun and opened fire. Officer Patrick Hazell, a three-year veteran of the Whittier Police Department, was shot in the abdomen but survived.
The flag-draped casket bearing Boyer’s body was brought into Calvary Chapel Downey at about 10 a.m., the solemn procession accompanied by the sound of bagpipes.
During the service, Boyer’s children — Joey and Joshua Boyer and Ashley Sheleretis — sang for the crowd that included thousands of uniformed law enforcement personnel from across the country. A drum set — once played by Ringo Starr — was positioned in front of the church, since Boyer played drums in a classic rock cover band.
“Aside from work, Keith had an affinity for music,” Whittier police Chief Jeff Piper said. “His level of professional ability on the drums allowed him to play with many talented groups … (and) Keith also played several times with not-so-talented groups — (like) ones I played guitar in.”
Piper joked about how Boyer sang backup vocals while playing the drums, and his voice was better than anyone else’s in the group.
Piper broke down in tears as he concluded his remarks.
“Keith’s memory will live forever in the halls of our department and in the minds of everyone who knew him, for you see Keith was a hero, and they say heroes never die, they live forever,” he said. “Keith would tell us not to be sad, for he is in a better place. He’s playing drums with the most magnificent band imaginable. Godspeed Keith, my brother in law enforcement and my friend.”
Following the service, Boyer’s body will be carried by an honor guard to a hearse for the procession to Rose Hills Memorial Park at 3888 Workman Mill Road in Whittier, for burial and a graveside service.
The man accused of killing Boyer, Michael Christopher Mejia, 26, was shot in the back during the gun fight and hospitalized. He was charged Wednesday with capital murder.
Boyer joined the Whittier Police Department in 1989 and became a full- time police officer in 1990, according to Piper.
The Whittier Police Officers Association has created a fund for people to make donations on behalf of Boyer and his family. Donations to the WPOA Benevolent Fund can be made in person at the Whittier branch of the Credit Union of Southern California, 8028 Greenleaf Ave. Checks should be made out to WPOA Benevolent Fund and reference account number 488879.
Checks also can be mailed to Credit Union of Southern California, WPOA Benevolent Fund, P.O. Box 200, Whittier, CA, 90608, Attn: David Valencia.
—City News Service
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