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2019 Memorial and Cleanup for Sgt Manny Tapia

January 12, 2019 @ 8:30 am - 12:30 pm MST


Manny TapiaOn January 12, 2019, the annual memorial for Sergeant Manny Tapia will be held in Santa Cruz County.  The memorial will begin with an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup in Rio Rico and then a small memorial service in Nogales.


0830 to 0900 hours – Breakfast Burritos will be provided for participants meet at the dirt parking lot on Rio Rico Drive.  Get off on Exit 17 on Interstate 19 and go East 1/8 of a mile on Rio Rico Drive.  The Adopt-A-Highway clean-up will start here.

0900 to 1100 hours – Adopt-A-Highway clean-up will start, but if you’re running a little late don’t worry just call Trooper Ibarra.  The clean-up will take place on Interstate 19 between kilometer 15 and kilometer 17.  Bags, water, and glove will be provided.

1130 to 1230 hours – Memorial Service will be held in Nogales on North Grand Avenue (Business 19) at milepost 1, East side of the roadway.  The site is between the Pizza Hut and the American Motel.   Participants can get off at Exit 9 and go South into Nogales or they can take I-19 all the way into Nogales and ten make a left turn onto N. Grand Avenue.

If you have any questions, please contact Trooper Cosme Ibarra #5555 at (520) 313-7116.

Sgt. Tapia was shot on Monday, Jan. 6, 1991 by an 18-year-old drug runner whom Tapia had pulled over on N. Grand Avenue while working on a surveillance operation as head of the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Metro Task Force. He suspected the car was loaded with marijuana and ordered the driver, Noel Bernal Gonzalez, to get out of the car and open the trunk.

Bernal fumbled with the keys and struggled to open the trunk. Suddenly he bolted, turned around and fired an unknown amount of shots from a pistol he pulled from his waistband, striking Tapia in the abdomen and arm. Another officer who had responded to the call shot and killed Bernal.

Tapia, the father of three young children, died in surgery at a Tucson hospital at 1:45 a.m. the next morning.

Born in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Tapia grew up in the Bowie, Ariz. area. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, attaining the rank of staff sergeant. He joined DPS in 1973 and in 1984 earned his sergeant stripes. He also earned the respect and admiration of others in and outside law enforcement, as evidenced by the throngs of lawmen, family, friends and dignitaries who attended his funeral in Tucson. The convoy from Nogales alone comprised 30 vehicles.

At the time of the shooting Tapia lived in Tumacacori. The American Youth Soccer Organization and Little League coach had built up a reputation as the cog for mutual cooperation and collaboration among area law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level. The job at Metro positioned him to exploit his skill as a consensus builder.

Rudy Camacho, who was director of inspections and control for U.S. Customs, said upon Tapia’s death, “He was a bonding-type of person. Unlike bureaucrats, when Manny told you he would work with your agency, he would follow through. If Manny said so, it was good as done. It wasn’t just a lot of lip service. He was able to bring people together, agency to agency.”

Click here to view Sgt Tapia’s memorial page…


January 12, 2019
8:30 am - 12:30 pm MST
Event Category:


AZ United States
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