Thousands mourn fallen Toronto police sergeant

A former police comrade and now sitting member of Parliament remembered how Sgt. Ryan Russell’s career with Toronto Police Services began.

Hall D of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was filled with hundreds of police officers, emergency personnel and members of the public, Tuesday afternoon, to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of the fallen TPS officer. Russell died last Wednesday as he attempted to stop a snow-plowing vehicle police said had been stolen.

Julian Fantino, current MP and former police chief, told the mourners that he handed Russell his badge 11 years ago alongside Russell’s father, Glenn Russell.

“I’m reminded of the significance of this tragedy, a tragedy that is very difficult to accept, and even more difficult to comprehend,” Fantino said. “We are moved to accept the undeniable reality (of) Ryan’s untimely death in the line of duty while serving and protecting as he undertook to do when he took his oath of office.”

The stage at the Convention Centre was filled with bouquets of flowers with such dedications as “Beloved Husband,” “Loving Son,” “Loving Brother,” and “Grandson” printed on them. Thousands watched as the body of Sgt. Ryan Russell, wrapped in the Canadian flag, was set down on the podium.

Fantino said that Russell was completely devoted to his wife and his two-year-old son, Nolan.

Christine Russell tried to hold back her tears as she approached the podium to share a few words about her husband. She began by thanking the public and dignitaries for their support. Then she offered loving words for her husband.

“It is with Ryan’s courage and his bravery, and along with all of you and your support, I am able to stand here,” she said. “Ryan always put others before himself and on Jan. 12, this cost him his life.”

Christine Russell said that her husband looked up to his father, and that he “wanted nothing more than to be just like his dad.” She concluded her comments by saying how honoured she was to be a part of Sgt. Russell’s life.

“You are our inspiration; you are our hero. Thank you for loving us and being a part of our lives,” she said. “I find so much comfort when I look at our little boy, because I see so much of Ryan in him.”

The ceremony concluded with a few words from Rev. Walter Kelly who remembered Sgt. Russell’s childhood. Then, everyone stood silently as the coffin was carried down the red carpet out of the hall.