BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Gov. Eric Holcomb told mourners at Friday’s funeral for a central Indiana sheriff’s deputy fatally shot last week that his slaying is a reminder “that evil exists in this world” and that police officers work daily to keep the public safe.
Holcomb said his “heart broke” when he learned March 2 that Boone County sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett had been shot during a foot chase with fleeing suspects in Lebanon, about 20 miles northwest of Indianapolis. The 34-year-old Pickett, a married father of two, died Monday after being kept on life support for organ donation.
Holcomb told about 1,500 people, including hundreds of police officers, at the Connection Pointe Christian Church that he’s been praying for Pickett’s widow and two young sons.
“I’ve been thinking about the many times, too many times really, that we’re reminded that evil exists in this world, lurking in dark corners. And it’s the bravest among us — Jacob Pickett and his brothers and sisters in uniform — that work every day to ensure that most of us will never see it,” he said.
“When that blue line breaks, that’s when we must rally together to start repairing it,” Holcomb added during Friday’s services in Brownsburg, the Indianapolis suburb where Pickett grew up.
Pickett, who had been a deputy with the department since 2015, oversaw its canine team.
Anthony Baumgardt, 21, has been charged with murder in Pickett’s death. As he was led into court Wednesday, he told reporters that he fired the shots because he didn’t want to be bit by the officer’s police dog. Baumgardt also said he had “no remorse” for his actions.
Prosecutors are weighing whether to seek the death penalty for Baumgardt. A judge has entered a preliminary not-guilty plea on the Lebanon man’s behalf.
Mourners who filed into the church walked past Pickett’s flag-draped casket and a large photo of him touching the head of his canine partner, Brik, with the dog’s paw resting on his shoulder.
Pastor Steve Reeves said Pickett was a dedicated officer, “a beloved husband and a very caring father,” and a selfless and kind public servant. Reeves said the deputy greeted children at schools, organized a Christmas card drive for a child and rescued animals with his wife while off-duty.
“We have come here today not to bring closure to our grief. That doesn’t happen in this life,” Reeve said. “We have come to seek comfort, to remember him and celebrate his life.”
Following Friday’s services, a funeral procession that included scores of police cars and motorcycles rolled past groups of schoolchildren waving small American flags as it began its journey.
The procession from Pickett’s funeral in Brownsburg to Lebanon and then to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis covered more than 50 miles and took more than four hours for the long line of police vehicles to complete.
Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” as a police honor guard folded the American flag that covered Pickett’s casket, after which the hundreds of police officers in attendance filed past and placed flowers the casket before it was buried Friday evening.