About 50 police officers gathered in the Back Bay today to honor the memory of Roy J. Sergei, a police officer who died 25 years ago today, after he was shot to death pursuing a gunman.
While buses, cars, and cyclists whizzed by, Sergei’s family members unveiled a sign at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Marlborough Street memorializing Sergei’s sacrifice: “Detective Roy Joseph Sergei, Killed in the Line of Duty.” Officers in uniforms and suits clapped and bagpipes crescendoed in a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Sergei, 42, was struck four times in the wee hours of Oct. 2, 1987, while he tried to apprehend a man who had been spotted climbing over a rear fence on Commonwealth Avenue. The gunman, Ted Jeffrey Otsuki, fled the scene and was captured in Mexico almost one year after the shooting. Sergei died from his injuries three weeks later at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 25 years ago today.
At the time, Sergei’s funeral was considered one of the largest in Boston’s history, as more than 6,000 police and city officials paid their respects at a West Roxbury funeral home.
Today, officers maintained that Sergei continues to be a source of grief, but also inspiration, for officers around the city.
Boston Police Superintendent William Evans said Sergei was a committed officer who was dedicated to his work. On night patrols, as other officers may have taken a few minutes of break to skim over a newspaper, Sergei never paused, driving up and down Back Bay streets and scanning alleys for trouble.
“He was just a tenacious worker,” Evans said. “We used to joke that he never slowed down.”
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis recalled that he was a young officer in Lowell police when Sergei died. That experience, he said, instilled in his mind the importance of recognizing an officer’s sacrifice — and the sacrifice of his family.
“I want you to know, we don’t forget, we’ll never forget, and we are here to help you any way that we can,” Davis said.
After the ceremony, Michelle Sergei-Casiano, Sergei’s oldest daughter, said the police department’s recognition of her father and his legacy has never wavered. She said she was confident the street sign will help remind others of the price Sergei paid to help protect the citizens of Boston.
“People walking by will look up and say, ‘I wonder who that is,’” Sergei-Casiano said. “And they’ll go home and look it up, and they’ll learn about my father.”
Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.