Memorial Service Held for Rookie Police Officer Killed in Pomona

A memorial service was held Thursday for the rookie police officer killed during a call in Pomona earlier this month.

Pomona Police Officer Greggory Casillas' cap and a U.S. flag rest on a pedestal during Casillas' funeral services at Purpose Church in Pomona on Thursday. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Pomona Police Officer Greggory Casillas' cap and a U.S. flag rest on a pedestal during Casillas' funeral services at Purpose Church in Pomona on Thursday. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Greggory Casillas was killed during a lengthy standoff in the 1400 block of South Palomares Street when he was shot through a door on March 9.

The suspect in the shooting, 38-year-old Isaias De Jesus Valencia, has been charged with murder in Casillas’ death, as well as the attempted murder of several other officers.

Casillas, a 30-year-old husband and father of two, was sworn in as a Pomona police officer in September and was just about to complete his field training the night he was gunned down.

Thursday's service for Casillas was held at Purpose Church on Garey Avenue in Pomona, with hundreds in attendance, including Gov. Jerry Brown. Hundreds of police officers filed into the church ahead of the casket, draped in an American flag, that was carried by eight police pallbearers.

Casillas' father, also named Greggory Casillas, said the tragedy has given him a fuller understanding of the person his son was. In talking to the fallen officers' colleagues, the elder Casillas learned of the teenagers his son had mentored to help turn their lives around.

"I didn’t know how big his heart was. As of now, I do know," he said. "He was twice the man that I was."

In addressing the congregation, Pomona Police Chief Mike Olivieri said Casillas had a fundamental belief that good should prevail over evil, and dedicated his life to the goal.

"In the quiet, safe peace of your home, get down on your knees and thank God for him, and thank God that he answered the noble calling to serve all of us as guardian," Olivieri said.

Arturo Fematt Jr., Casillas' brother-in-law, recalled how Casillas had been unable to contain his happiness last Halloween, shortly after joining the police squad.

“All my dreams are coming true,” Fematt recalled him saying. “I got the girl of my dreams, she gave me the two best gifts in life I have — my boys — and I have my job.”

Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval said the entire town is mourning alongside the Casillas family.

"This is a painful time for the city of Pomona," he said. "Our Police Department, our chief, the entire Pomona community and most importantly the Casillas family. Our hearts collectively ache from this tragic loss of Officer Gregg Casillas."

Casillas’ name will now be inscribed upon the federal, state, county and city police memorials alongside other officers who died in the line of duty.

“For many generations to come, long after all of us are gone, Gregg will continue to be remembered for the sacrifice that he made,” Olivieri said.

The Pomona Police Officers Association has set up a fund to support the Casillas family.

The Casillas family is also holding a fundraising raffle event at Craft Beer Cellar in Eagle Rock on Friday, March 23, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. They are located at 1353 Colorado Blvd. in Los Angeles.

KTLA's Erika Martin contributed to this report.