Washington, D.C. (KXAN) — Eight months after Austin Police Officer Amir Abdul-Khaliq’s death, he will be honored at a national memorial Monday for giving his life to protect the public. Abdul-Khaliq was hit by a car while escorting a funeral procession in 2016.
National Police Week falls May 15 through May 21, bringing many police departments across the country, including the Austin Police Department, to spend the weekend in Washington, D.C. to remember the lives of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.
“I really miss him, but I’m here in D.C. and I’m able to be with his family,” explained APD Officer Jermaine Kilgore who was Abdul-Khaliq’s partner on APD’s motorcycle patrol at the time of his death. Kilgore spoke with KXAN from his hotel in D.C.
Kilgore said that dozens of APD employees attended a memorial this weekend. He considered Abdul-Khaliq his best friend and described him as a kind man, focused on faith, family and work in law enforcement.
“Amir was just really kind, and he died serving his community. He was on his motorcycle just doing his work as he loved to do, and it’s unfortunate,” Kilgore said. “But he didn’t come home, and he has five children that won’t have a father any more.”
Abdul-Khaliq is among the nearly 400 officers being honored in Washington D.C. this week.
“It’s tough being a police officer. A majority of us are good guys — we’re doing the right thing, we’re putting our lives on the line every day, and sometimes we don’t come home to our families,” Kilgore said.
While the APD community is coping with Abdul-Khaliq’s absence, the community at the mosque he attended in Austin also feels “a void” without him.
“He was a role model. People would look up to him as someone who was protecting us,” said Mohamed-Umer Esmail, the Imam at the Nueces Mosque in Austin. “We were all proud, the Muslim community was proud of having a police officer in our midst, from one of our own.”
Esmail said that he knew Abdul-Khaliq from 2012 onward and considered him a close friend.
“He would come to me, he would ask me questions, mostly religious questions,” Esmail said. “He was very studious, he was very serious about his religion.”
Esmail was so impressed with Abdul-Khaliq’s desire to learn about his faith, he bestowed him with the title of Imam posthumously.
Esmail explained that their are other Muslim officers in APD, but Abdul Khaliq stood out because of his level of regular involvement with the mosque. He explained that Abdul-Khaliq would be called to lead prayer on occasion — once, Abdul-Khaliq was even asked to lead prayer in police uniform at his daughter’s school.
“My daughter ran up to me saying the police officer led the prayer today, she was so excited to see a police officer lead the prayer,” he said.
Esmail recalled other times when Abdul-Khaliq heard about Muslim students at UT who were being stalked and went out of his way to offer them protection and someone to turn to as they walked on campus. Esmail believes it’s important to take the time to recognize police officers and the role they play in the community.
“I think it is because police officers — they do a lot, they sacrifice a lot every morning, they leave home not knowing what’s going to happen to them,” Esmail said. “We hear about incidents all the time of police officers being attacked or their lives being endangered, and they do a lot for us.”
KXAN received the following statement from Abdul-Khaliq’s family (father children, brothers, and nieces):
“We’re now in Washington, D.C. celebrating and honoring the fallen policemen across the country [from] the year of 2016. The Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) Association has put together for the last 29 years a great event of honoring the fallen police officer’s in service of our country. We are honored to be a part of this activity in Washington, D.C..”
On Monday, the actual Peace Officers Memorial Service will be held at the U.S. Capitol at 11 a.m.
Abdul-Khaliq was also honored by Gov. Greg Abbott at the Texas State Capitol earlier this month.