Utahn added to National Peace Officers Memorial

Law Enforcement » North Salt Lake's Charles Skinner died while chasing suspect.
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A sea of blue enveloped the west front of the U.S. Capitol on Friday as police officers from across America gathered to pay tribute to their fallen colleagues, including North Salt Lake Police Officer Charles Skinner, who died last year while pursuing a suspect.

Decked out in full uniform despite the muggy 75-degree heat, officers from various agencies stood at attention and saluted a stream of family members who lost their loved ones in the line of duty last year.

Skinner's widow, Katy, walked through the lines of officers and later added a single red rose to a wreath along with other surviving family members.

"This entire week has been such a tribute to all the fallen officers," she said. "Today was kind of the icing on the cake."

Katy Skinner was left with then-3-week-old twins when her husband lost control of his police cruiser while chasing a suspect at high speed and crashed his car. He died of his injuries five days later. The suspect, William Fisher of Salt Lake City, was captured.

Several North Salt Lake police officers joined Katy Skinner at the event and filmed the ceremonies for her children to see when they're grown.

"Hopefully, when they're older I can bring them back and remind them of these ceremonies," she said.

Charles Skinner's name was etched into panel 36 of the granite memorial just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

Katy Skinner's father, Gary Koehn, a Bountiful police sergeant, said the event was moving.

"I'm proud of Charlie, and I'm proud of the brotherhood of police here," Koehn said. "It just proves we're one big family."

Mother-in-law Susan Koehn said the National Police Memorial is unique among the granite sculptures and structures all over Washington because names will continuously be added to this monument.

"It's the only memorial in the city that will never be finished," Koehn said.

Some tears flowed during Friday's gathering at the Capitol, and police officers from Great Britain, Russia and Canada joined to pay their respects.

"It's unbelievable to honor a man who gave everything for what we do every day," said North Salt Lake police Sgt. Mitch Gwilliam, who escorted Katy Skinner to the event.

Another Utahn was also added to the wall of names at the memorial: Levi Washington Davis, who died in 1860.

Davis, a Springville police officer, was one of several being added to the memorial from historical research. He was shot as he and a posse chased down a suspect wanted for stealing government livestock. The suspect fired on Davis, who returned fire, and both were mortally wounded.