Slain Colorado Deputy Zackari Parrish — a beloved officer known for his compassion and care for those he interacted with in his community — reportedly lost his life last month while trying to help his killer.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said earlier this month at Parrish’s funeral that Parrish had tried to talk the suspect down right up until the tragic moment he was fatally shot, the Associated Press reported.
“Up until the moment he died, he was pleading with the man, ‘Let me talk to you, let me help you,'” Spurlock said, citing body camera footage that was recorded during the incident. “And then the killer killed him.”
Parrish died when he and three other deputies went to the home of a man named Matthew Riehl on New Year’s Eve. Riehl, who got into a gunfight with officers, later died at the hands of a SWAT team member, the AP reported.
Amid the tragic pain that has followed Parrish’s death, stories about the officer have continued to be reported in the press, with many heralding him for always going above and beyond the call of duty. One story in particular is sure to tug at the heartstrings. It involves a woman whom Parrish arrested two years ago.
Parrish’s dad, Zach, shared the story surrounding Angela Jensen, whom Parrish arrested for a DUI back in 2015. But rather than merely arrest the woman and move on, Zach said that his son called him after the incident and told his father that they needed to pray for Jensen.
“He said, we need to pray for her,” Zach Parrish told KDVR-TV. “We need to pray for her.”
It’s clear that Parrish cared deeply about the individuals he was interacting with on the job. For her part, Jensen, who attended Parrish’s memorial but not his funeral, said that the cop’s kind words to her on that horrific day helped transform her life.
“I instantly knew I had just made the biggest mistake of my life,” Jensen said of her DUI, but noted that Parrish’s kind words to her during the arrest will never leave her. “Something that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my entire life is he said, ‘Good people make mistakes, you’re not a bad person.'”
That interaction, though, wasn’t the only time the two crossed paths. Around a year after Jensen’s arrest, Parrish again pulled her over, this time for a broken tail light. Parrish remembered her and was elated to learn during their subsequent discussion that she had stopped drinking and had changed her life.
In fact, he went home and once again called his dad to share his excitement.
Jensen had no idea that her story made such an impact on the cop — so much that he shared her ordeal with his own family. After she learned that detail, she said she was amazed and showered praise upon an officer who she said truly made a difference.
“He was a blessing in disguise, a blessing in a uniform,” she said.
Parrish left behind a wife named Gracie and two small children. And Jensen wasn’t the only person he helped, according to the AP. His boss, Castle Rock police Chief Jack Cauley, said at Parrish’s funeral that the cop once held a child so that he wouldn’t see officers handcuffing his parent.
Parrish reportedly had a keen ability to connect with others — one that will not be forgotten.