Updated June 20, 2022 - 2:28 pm
Las Vegas police Detective Justin Terry was remembered as a committed public servant, loving father and family man at a memorial service Monday that drew hundreds of people.
The 45-year-old detective was killed while driving his law enforcement vehicle on U.S. Highway 95 near the 215 Beltway on June 10.
His sons, Sean and Jacob, delivered remarks at the morning service, held at Central Christian Church in Henderson.
Sean Terry told mourners that his father advised his sons to cherish every day as a gift.
“Tomorrow is never promised,” Sean Terry recalled his father saying. “Life is too short to be upset. Never go to bed angry with those that you love. Always tell them that you love them and how you feel. There is always the chance you may never see them walk through that door again.”
‘Always my hero’
Sean Terry said he and his brother knew their father loved them and was proud of them
“Nothing was left unsaid,” Sean Terry said. “We are extremely lucky to have peace with that. There are others who cannot say the same.”
Jacob Terry told mourners that Father’s Day “was a very rough day,” but the Terry family was forever grateful for the time they had with his father. Jacob Terry recounted how he often watched superhero movies with his dad.
“Even after watching all of those superheroes on the big screen and everything, there was always one hero who I looked up to, and that was him,” Jacob Terry said. “He was just the best person I could ever look up to. He always has been and always will be my hero.”
Justin Terry was killed when a semitrailer towing an excavator struck a beam that was part of the Nevada Department of Transportation’s Centennial Bowl construction project. The large steel beam then tumbled onto the highway, crushing Terry’s unmarked police vehicle. He died at the scene.
The Nevada Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash.
On Monday morning, more than 100 officers from across Southern Nevada escorted Justin Terry’s body in a flag-covered coffin from downtown Las Vegas to the Strip, then to the Henderson church. The motorcade, led by more than 60 Las Vegas traffic officers on motorcycles, entered the church grounds, then passed underneath a massive American flag stretched between Clark County and Las Vegas fire truck ladders.
The casket was brought to the front doors of the church in a police pickup truck. Officers formed lines on each side of the entryway of the church to salute their late colleague. The ceremony also brought many to the church who didn’t know Justin Terry but wanted to pay their respects.
James McGrath and son Joshua parked their pickup near the front entry of the church early Monday. Several American flags, with some featuring a blue line, waved from the back of their vehicle.
“We are showing our support for the family and the service we get as a community from these public safety officers who are out there doing their job every day,” James McGrath said. “People don’t realize how much they actually do for us.”
‘Best of the best’
Michael Kitchen, a pastor at Central Christian, said during the service that the day was “bittersweet,” first referencing the bitterness generated by Justin Terry’s death and the loss felt by his family and the community.
“But it is sweet because we know the type of man Justin was. He was the best of the best,” Kitchen said at the start of the service.
Felix Serrano, a recently retired senior inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service, was described by Las Vegas police Sgt. Nick Madsen as “Justin’s true partner.” Serrano partnered with Justin Terry on the U.S. Marshals’ sex offender-predator apprehension team.
“When I first met Justin, I knew we would get along,” Serrano said. “What I did not know was what a great friendship and partnership we would have over the next 11-plus years.”
Madsen described going through his initial training with Justin Terry during their first two years working together.
“It was obvious then that Justin was special, even amongst all of us,” Madsen said.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo shared several stories about Justin Terry’s passions and work.
“I share these stories because Detective Justin Terry was one of the best,” Lombardo said. “He made this department better, and he made our community better.”
Lombardo offered his condolences to the Terry family, including Justin Terry’s wife, Stacey. He also spoke directly to the man’s sons.
“Not many sons can say they had a father like yours,” Lombardo said. “Remember, you are not alone.”
The service featured an honor guard procession and video presentation by Justin Terry’s family. Several photos displayed in the video showed the detective on family trips, holding his children and surrounded by loved ones.
Terry was on duty at the time of his death. Police said he was assigned to the homicide sex crimes bureau, sexual assault and abuse section. He joined the force in 2001. He started the enduro program at the Las Vegas police southeast area command, making it possible for officers to ride dirt bikes into hard-to-reach locations to feed the homeless.
After the service concluded, Las Vegas police dispatchers paid tribute over police scanners to the fallen detective one last time.
“Attention all officers,” one dispatcher said. “Detective-officer Justin Terry, P number 7421. Secure. Final.”