Police Officer Richard J. Halford Atlanta Police Department, Georgia End of Watch: Saturday, November 3, 2012

Police Officer Richard J. Halford | Atlanta Police Department, GeorgiaAtlanta Police Department, Georgia

Police Officer Richard J. Halford

Atlanta Police Department, Georgia
End of Watch: Saturday, November 3, 2012

Biographical Info

Age: 48
Tour of Duty: 26 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Aircraft accident
Date of Incident: November 3, 2012
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Agency Contact Information

Officer Kim Jones
Public Affairs Unit
Atlanta Police Department
226 Peachtree Street SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 546-7237

Police Officer Richard Halford and Police Officer Shawn Smiley were killed in a helicopter crash while assisting in the search for a missing 9-year-old boy at approximately 10:30 pm.
They were flying low over an area approximately four miles west of downtown when the helicopter suddenly crashed to the ground near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Hamilton E. Holmes Drive. The helicopter exploded after impacting the ground. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the NTSB and FAA.
The boy they were searching for was found safe a short time later.
Officer Halford had served with the Atlanta Police Department for 26 years and had been assigned as a pilot in the Air Unit for 16 years. He is survived by his daughter.

In one of the most shocking police accidents of the year, an Atlanta Police helicopter lost control and fell out of the sky while clipping power lines at the corner of Martin Luther King and H.E. Holmes Drive on Saturday evening, November 3. The two officers piloting the helicopter died at the fiery scene.

The officers that were killed, have been identified as Richard J. Halford of Lithia Springs and Shawn A. Smiley of Lithonia.

Officer Shawn A. Smiley of Lithonia, age 40, joined the APD in October 2010. He had been with the Air Unit since earlier this year, serving as a tactical flight officer. He previously served in the Department’s Zone 2 precinct. He is survived by his wife and three children, ages 5, 7, and 9.

Officer Richard J. Halford of Lithia Springs, age 48, joined the APD in May 1986. He had been with the Air Unit for more than 16 years, serving as a pilot. Officer Halford has also served in the Department’s Zone 4 precinct, the Motors and DUI units. He is survived by his former wife, and a 21-year-old daughter.

Witnesses in the area immediately began posting pics on Twitter and Instagram of the scene last night, as dozens of law enforcement and fire department agencies swarmed to the location to try to help their fallen brothers.

According to Carlos Campos, Public Affairs for APD, "shortly after 9 p.m. Atlanta Police Department officers responded to a report of a missing child at 1855 Joseph E. Boone Blvd. N W." The helicopter was dispatched to help with the search and canvassing.

Around 10:30 p.m., witnesses reported that the helicopter crashed to the ground at Hamilton E. Holmes, near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Both officers on board were killed on impact.

Trust funds have been set up to benefit the officers’ families through any Wells Fargo bank location. Contributions may be made in the name of the officers beginning at noon on Monday. Funeral arrangements will be announced.

The accident is under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

APD Chief of Police, Chief Turner and Mayor Kasim Reed released the following statements:

"Losing an officer is the most difficult thing a police chief can face," said Chief George Turner. "Losing two is an unthinkable tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families of these officers and our thoughts and prayers are with them. This is a difficult day for the APD family and it is a reminder of their bravery and the sacrifices made by our officers every day."
"I am deeply saddened by the terrible accident that claimed the lives of two on-duty Atlanta Police Department officers," said Mayor Kasim Reed. "We mourn these two brave men and offer our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones. We also pause to extend our sympathy to the men and women of the police department who place their lives in harm’s way every day to keep our city safe, and who especially feel the pain of this loss."

As pedestrians and residents began to leave their houses Sunday morning and drive by the scene, all that is left is a large charred black mark on the road where the helicopter crashed. Georgia Power crews were also working to repair the downed power-lines that occurred with this accident. One City of Atlanta employee that was on the scene with the Waste Department early Sunday morning, told me, "the mess was huge. There was debris all over this street and parking lot. I just can’t believe something like this happened right here."

Our hearts and prayers go out to the APD, fellow co-workers, and the families of Officer Halford and Officer Smiley.

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3 Responses to “Police Officer Richard J. Halford Atlanta Police Department, Georgia End of Watch: Saturday, November 3, 2012”


  1. 1 c763 November 5, 2012 at 05:46

    You both now have the best wings you can have. Take care fallen angels and RIP.

  2. 2 Joan Parker November 5, 2012 at 07:56

    Rest In Peace Officer Halford….

  3. 3 Alvin and Anita Carroll June 24, 2013 at 10:46

    Dear Carl, Mattie:
    Our sincerest condolences in the death of your son, Richard Joseph Halford. We recently learned of this tragic accident and our hearts burned within us. We, as friends, are praying for you. We did not personally know Officer Richard Halford; however, knowing you, the parents, as loving and beautiful people, he had to be a wonderful and dedicated man of God. We know that God only selects the best flowers for His garden and your son is one of them. We will continue to pray for you and your family. We encourage you to remain strong in the Lord, knowing He will keep and comfort you. Also, remember the beautiful times you shared, and all the wonderful memories. We love you and look forward to seeing you soon.
    Love and God Bless,
    Alvin and Anita Carroll


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