(Update 3:22 p.m.)
The official memorials to Michel on Monday attracted hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the country. But along the side of Belle Chasse Highway, dozens of ordinary people – the employees of a muffler shop and a marble warehouse, the afternoon crowd at the Yardam Lounge, and motorists who parked their cars on the side of the road – were also paying tribute with American flags in their hands.
Ronda Pridgen, the owner of the bar, bought those flags on Sunday. She said she organized the makeshift roadside memorial not because she knew Michel personally, but “to support our police officers.”
“They do a great job and they don’t deserve what this man got,” Pridgen said. “There are good people left that appreciate them.”
Gwen Plaisance had one of those flags in her left hand, her right hand over her heart, and tears in her eyes as she watched Michel’s hearse pass her by from the neutral ground.
Plaisance worked with Michel at a mangement company years ago, she said. Back then, he was still just a reserve for the the Sheriff’s Office.
“His dream was to become a police officer,” Plaisance said. When he found out that he was going to be a full-time deputy, she added, he was “elated.”
If there was any consolation to be found in the wake of Michel’s death, Plaisance said, it was in the crowd gathered by the side of the road to honor him.
“They put their lives on the line every day for us, and we don’t show enough appreciation,” Plaisance said.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand referred to Deputy David Michel Jr. as a “fallen hero” in remarks to reporters outside Believer's Life Family Church in Gretna on Monday afternoon.
“I guess the easiest thing today is going to be to cry, quite frankly. And the hardest thing is going to be to fight back the multitude of emotions, anger being one, which is a wasted emotion in my view, quite frankly,” Normand said.
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