Hundreds of people, including members of the Brentwood community, government officials from the city, county and state, and first responders from across the region, gathered at Fellowship Bible Church Friday night to support the family of fallen Brentwood Police Officer Destin Legieza with a candlelight prayer vigil.
Legieza, 30, had been with the department since 2015 and worked the midnight shift, having previously been employed by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in Athens, Ga.
He was killed in a motor vehicle crash early Thursday morning.
According to a city news release, Legieza was born and raised in Franklin and attended Franklin High School before graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration.
Legieza lived in Spring Hill with his wife Heather and was a third-generation law enforcement officer.
“My husband, Destin, was the best man I’ve ever met," his wife said in the release. "He had so many friends and family who loved him. He loved the community of Brentwood and always knew he wanted to be a police officer. To my best friend, I love you forever and I miss you.”
His father Scott Legieza a lieutenant with the Franklin Police Department and his grandfather is retired from the CSX Railroad Police.
Legieza was the first BPD officer to die in the line of duty in the city's history.
BPD Chief Jeff Hughes spoke of Legieza's dedication and service to the people and community of Brentwood, noting that Legieza was selected to be a Field Training Officer in 2017 as well as having recently been selected to serve on the Crisis Intervention Team.
Legieza also earned the honor of being the Brentwood Morning Rotary Club Officer of the Year in 2016, and received the Chief's Sheepdog Award for Outstanding Police Work and Cooperation Among Law Enforcement Agencies in November 2017.
"In today's time it's not easy to be a police officer," Hughes said. "It's a tough time for law enforcement. But I have never been more proud than I am as I stand before you tonight to have known and worked with an officer of the quality of Destin Legieza, and that goes true for every member of our police department."
Chief Hughes also announced that Legieza with be posthumously awarded the Law Enforcement Purple Heart and the Medal of Valor.
"I want to sincerely thank you for the outpouring of support," Hughes said to the crowd of faces lit by flickering orange candlelight. "It makes us able to get through this difficult time and we will be eternally grateful."
Brentwood United Methodist Church, Holy Family Catholic Church and LifeWay donated hundreds of candles for the vigil that was organized by Tom Tunnicliffe, and featured additional speakers including Brentwood Mayor Rhea Little, Fellowship Bible Church Pastor Richard Scott and BPD Chaplin Jamin Martin, and a performance of songs of worship.
Legieza’s funeral will take place at Clearview Baptist Church on Wednesday at 2 p.m., with the funeral procession departing from Williamson Memorial at 11 a.m. and passing by City Hall.
Visitation will take place on Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A Memorial Fund for Legieza's family has been set up and anyone who would like to make a monetary donation can do so in his name at any branch of First Horizon Bank.
A GoFundMe called the Destin Legieza Fallen Officer Fund was also setup by Franklin Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Charles Warner and in one day has already surpassed the $25,000 goal.
In addition to the candlelight vigil, a makeshift memorial has been set up in the parking lot of Brentwood Market, the site of the fatal crash, and a BPD SUV sits outside of City Hall covered in flowers and messages of love, sympathy and support.
View the City's recording of the entire memorial service below.