LIMA — Slain Toledo Police Department Officer Anthony Dia was remembered as an engaged, optimistic and caring young officer who started his law enforcement career at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center in 2017.
“He excelled in our environment,” former Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Police Chief Jeff Ramey said. “People in crisis and people are stressed; he was a good person to deescalate that stress and help people deal with all the things that are going on when they’re in our environment.”
A memorial service was held Tuesday in Toledo to remember Dia, who was gunned down in a store parking lot by an intoxicated man holding a beer early Saturday and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Dia, 26, left behind a wife and two sons.
“In his last gasp, he demonstrated his truth and loyalty. ‘Tell my family I love them,’” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said, referring to Dia’s final words before he died.
Dia’s most memorable characteristic, Ramey said, was his smile.
Ramey recalls the days when Dia’s mere presence was enough to lighten a bad day, as Dia made sure to stop by his former boss’s office each afternoon just to say hello.
“That’s just the kind of guy he was,” Ramey said. “He could bring you up without even doing anything. The world is a lesser place without Anthony Dia in it.”
Dia left Mercy Health-St. Rita’s for the Toledo Police Department in 2018.
Ramey was joined by about two dozen current and former Mercy Health police officers on Tuesday for Dia’s funeral service in Toledo.
During the service, Moustafa Rahal, one of Dia’s cousins, read a letter that the officer wrote to his family in the event of his death, The Blade reported.
“Every day I put on the uniform, it was my intention to protect the weak and innocent in my community from evil,” wrote Dia, who was Muslim. “I hope I died with bravery.”
“I know that one day, we’ll all see each other again. But until then, I’ll ask Allah to let me visit you all as much as possible and watch over you as much as I can,” he wrote. “From Allah we come, to Allah we shall return.”
Law enforcement officers from across Ohio and neighboring states were among those who filled an arena at the University of Toledo.
“A family is devastated. A city is hurting. My police department is hurting. And we’re all trying to understand the whys of a senseless murder,” said Police Chief George Kral.
Afterward, residents lined the streets to watch the procession carrying Dia’s body to a cemetery for a private burial.