By Chelsea Prince The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Three weeks after the death of a Gwinnett County police officer, authorities shared their appreciation for the support of an unlikely segment of the community: inmates in the county jail.
The office of Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway shared a letter from a group of 20 inmates to the agency’s Facebook page on Saturday. In the letter, the inmates convey their sadness at the loss of Officer Antwan Toney, who was killed Oct. 20 while responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle near Shiloh Middle School.
Toney celebrated his 30th birthday six days before his death.
His alleged killer, 18-year-old Tafahree Maynard, was the subject of an extensive two-day manhunt before he was found hiding in a shed, armed with a lawnmower blade. He was shot and killed after refusing to surrender, authorities said.
The inmates, who identified themselves as “a group of Christian men who wish to express heartfelt condolences to Officer Toney’s family and all Gwinnett County staff,” said they wrote to the sheriff in a spirit of gratitude and respect.
“This was a tragic incident that never should have occurred,” they said. “And though law enforcement and criminals may be considered opposites, the intrinsic value of a human life transcends those boundaries by far. Right is right and wrong is wrong. No matter the color uniform.”
They went on to thank all police officers, military personnel and first responders.
“Your service and sacrifice make the world a better place for all,” the group said.
Conway’s office said in the weeks since Toney’s death, they have seen an outpouring of support in the Gwinnett County community. Especially on the day of the officer’s funeral, when hundreds of mourners lined the streets to witness his procession through Lawrenceville, the agency said “these meaningful acts humbled every law enforcement officer who witnessed them.”
“We’re deeply appreciative of this act of kindness from these men,” the sheriff’s office said of the letter. “We think that Officer Toney would also be appreciative of their actions and we hope you are, too.”