Slain officer's son: "I never knew my father"

Mark MacPhail Jr.
Mark MacPhail Jr.

By Don Logana - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Twenty years ago, 27-year-old Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail was shot and killed in a parking lot.

On Wednesday, exactly two decades after his death, friends, family, supporters and others honored his memory with a rally and wreath laying ceremony.

See 20th anniversary rally of MacPhail murder.

Wednesday morning's rally at the Chatham County courthouse was about remembering a man who had lost his life in the line of duty, leaving behind a wife and two small children.

"I was too young and this is my chance to say goodbye Daddy," said his son, Mark MacPhail Jr. at the rally. "To tell him how I feel and we all still think about him. I never knew my father, only from what other people tell me about him and how much I look like him."

A picture of officer MacPhail covered signs and shirts as a large group of supporters came out to honor his memory and remember how he was killed.

"It's heartening. It makes me swell to know people still think about him and care to see justice done," MacPhail Jr. said.

"It was my worst nightmare. Any officer's worst nightmare," Sgt. David Owens with Savannah-Chatham police told WTOC.

Owens was the first officer on the scene the early morning of August 19, 1989. He found MacPhail face down in the parking lot.

"I did what I could to save his life. I tried so hard. The fact that Mark Jr. is here is a living testament. It was very difficult," Owens said.

"You did your best," MacPhail Jr. told him.

The 20th anniversary of Officer MacPhail's death falls just days after the man convicted of murdering him, Troy Anthony Davis, was granted another hearing in federal court by the US Supreme Court to prove his innocence.

See Supreme Court grants Davis another hearing.

The MacPhail family says they have faith in the justice system.

"Justice will prevail. Justice will prevail. Justice will prevail," the group said at the rally, many of which were wearing shirts and carrying signs that said, "Justice delayed is justice denied."

After the rally, the group marched to a police memorial at the intersection of Oglethorpe and Habersham in Savannah for a wreath laying ceremony.

The MacPhail family and Owens helped place a wreath at the police memorial in honor of MacPhail Sr. and other fallen law enforcement officers.

"This is about honoring him and getting the truth out there," MacPhail Jr. said.

"The support from the people who do believe in what's right, I'm speechless," Owens said.

Among other speakers at the rally were retired Savannah police chief David Gellatly, who called MacPhail, "the best of the best."

But what many MacPhail supporters say is a delay of justice will continue as the Federal District Court waits to set a date for Davis' evidentiary hearing.

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