ORLANDO, Fla. - Family, friends, and fellow law enforcement agents gathered at First Baptist Church in Orlando to say goodbye to Orlando Police Officer Kevin Valencia.
The 29-year-old was critically injured while responding to a domestic violence call on June 11, 2018. A convicted felon who was out on probation took four children hostage. When officers arrived on the scene, he shot through the door striking Officer Valencia in the head and resulting in traumatic brain injury.
Valencia was left in a coma and eventually moved to a recovering facility in Atlanta for treatment. However, he was brought back to Central Florida in 2019. He officially retired on Oct. 20, 2020, from the department, when was awarded a Purple Heart.
Meagan Valencia said her husband defied every expectation doctors had in his recovery. She said he had survived the pandemic and had been making huge strides lately at the live-in rehabilitation facility. She was optimistic.
"I never thought I’d have to say goodbye at 29. I never thought our story would end so tragically, don’t know why God called Kevin home," she said through tears.
Meagan and Kevin met when they were just 12 years old. They married at ages 21 and 22 and quickly added two little boys to their family, Kaleb and Kolton.
"Standing here is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We shouldn’t be here. We should be sitting on our couch in Lake Mary."
She described her husband as the goofiest real-life superhero who loved being a dad to two little boys.
"It breaks my heart Kolton and Kaleb won’t have the man who just wanted to be their best friend," she said to the crowd.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon recognized Valencia’s achievements as an officer who earned three prestigious awards in two years with the department.
"Kevin was exceeding all expectations and excelling in performance in his duties. He quickly was becoming an example for all of us to follow," Chief Rolon said.
Through tears, those who worked closely with Valencia spoke about their bonds.
"We were like brothers," Officer Will Thomas said.
Squadmates shared what made Kevin so special.
"I miss Kevin, miss him a lot. I miss Kevin's pre-shift text messages. He would always play hype man before work," Detective Manny Gonzalez said.
Touching stores were mixed with some funny ones. Friends all talked about his sense of humor and how his preparedness never ceased to amaze them. They said he kept a portable air hydraulic lift in the back of his squad car because he helped change so many tires. He ha pulled goggles out of his glove box on a call where he dove into a murky canal where he pulled a woman out of a sinking car.
The story from a former squadmate at the Doral Police Department provided just the comedy relief the emotional crowd needed. Officer Carlos Valdez said Valencia had pulled up minutes after him on a call about an alligator in the middle of the road. While he stood in fear, he was ready to roll.
"He had a rope and duct tape. He proceeds to jump on this alligator, tells me to tape the alligator’s mouth!"
Officer Will Thomas told Kaleb, Valencia's oldest son, about something that’s always stuck with him.
"Kaleb if you don't know, there's a little dinosaur that was yours that he would keep on his dashboard and that would remind him of you and that he was going home every time he got in that patrol car," Officer Thomas said.
Kaleb was just five and Kolton was still an infant when their dad suffered that life-altering injury. His squad vowed they will make sure his legacies know who their dad was.
"I hope to grow old with Kaleb and Kolton and tell them stories about you. I will cry and laugh with them and I'll make sure they know and never forget that daddy is a hero," Detective Manny Gonzalez said. "When life knocks Kaleb and Kolton down, I will remind them Valencia blood runs through their veins, they should never give up. Just like you never gave up on us.".
Kaleb saluted his father’s casket after the ceremony. Orange, Seminole, and Osceola sheriff’s offices used their helicopters to do a flyover to honor their fallen colleague.
You can pay your respects to Officer Kevin Valencia outside OPD headquarters where a wreath is displayed in front of the police vehicle in his honor.
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