Douglas County, CO – The last words of Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish were to the man who murdered him, as he pleaded with the man to let him help him.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock spoke at Deputy Parrish’s funeral Friday, and said, “And up until Deputy Zack Parrish died, he was pleading with the man, begging him, ‘Let me talk to you. Let me help you, please.’ And then the killer killed him,” according to KUSA.
The incident occurred shortly after 3 a.m. Dec. 31, when Deputy Parrish and other Douglas County deputies responded to an apartment in Highlands Ranch for a disturbance call. “He found out what was going on. He determined there was no crime, and he encouraged everyone to quiet down,” Sheriff Spurlock said.
Two hours later, deputies were called back to the same home. “And this was different. Zack knew it was different,” Sheriff Spurlock said.
He said he has listened to the body camera audio tapes from that final, fateful call, according to KUSA.
The Douglas County Sheriff shared what made the 29-year-old father of two so special. “Of course it was Zack’s call, and I’m guessing those of you who knew it was Zack’s call knew you stood behind him, never in front of him, and that’s who he was,” the sheriff said.
“And up until Deputy Zack Parrish died, he was pleading with the man, begging him, ‘Let me talk to you. Let me help you, please.’ And then the killer killed him,” Sheriff Spurlock said.
“Never once did I hear Zack Parrish use a foul word, never once did I hear him raise his voice. Never once did I hear him be derogatory to this individual. Not one time,” he said. “Now I know why officers wanted to work with Zack Parrish.”
Deputy Parrish’s murderer was identified as Andrew Riehl, a man with a history of mental problems who had posted numerous online posts including threats against University of Wyoming professors and rants against police officers.
Riehl was later killed by a SWAT team in a gunfight that also wounded another officer. Five deputies including Deputy Parrish and two people in nearby units were shot by Riehl during the incident, according to Time.
Deputy Parrish will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor for his courage and his bravery, Sheriff Spurlock announced at the funeral service.
He will also be named as an operator of the regional SWAT team. It was Parrish’s goal to be on that team.
The sheriff encouraged all those in attendance at Deputy Parrish’s funeral to “Be Like Zack.”
“Zack wouldn’t have had it any other way. I know that by just listening to the audio tape. I’ve never heard a more calm voice, ever, on a call like that. And it reminds me of First Corinthians ‘Imitate me. Just as I also imitate Christ,’ and that was Deputy Zack Parrish,” Sheriff Spurlock said.
“I’m proud of deputy Zack Parrish. He truly was a cop’s cop. He didn’t even know what that was,” Sheriff Spurlock said in his final remarks. “He just knew that he had something in him and everyone around him knew that he had it and they just wanted to follow him.”
Deputies from the Colorado State Patrol performed a 21-bell salute to honor Deputy Parrish after remarks were finished.
A single bell was rung 21 times. The bell was flown in from Washington State, where it was used to honor Washington State Patrol Trooper Sean O’Connell at his memorial service after he died in the line of duty on May 31, 2013.
As the two-and-a-half hour memorial service concluded, a dispatcher read out Deputy Parrish’s end of watch call.