On the night of March 26, 2017, Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney made a traffic stop just like he would have done on any other shift.

On the night of March 26, 2017, Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney made a traffic stop just like he would have done on any other shift.

But on this night, the courteous police officer encountered a man with felony warrants who didn’t want to go back to jail.

That passenger ran into the woods, with Terney giving chase.

Shots rang out in the darkness.

Moments later, “Central, I've been hit... Central, I've been shot,” were the words Terney relayed over the police radio.

Although he was critically injured, Terney returned fire, wounding his assailant.

Terney died the following morning — March 27, 2017 — and nothing would ever be the same for Terney's family, the Tecumseh community or its police department.

A grieving family, community

In the hours and days after Terney’s death, The Tecumseh Police Department, the community and Terney’s family would grieve a life taken much too soon.

The young officer – just 22 years old – loved his job and had a lifetime of plans ahead of him.

His death brought the grieving community together to support the officer's family as well as Terney's brothers in law enforcement, and that show of support came in many fashions.

Residents and first responders lined the streets of Tecumseh as a law enforcement processional escorted Terney through Tecumseh en route to his hometown of Canadian, Oklahoma, where funeral services were held.

One evening, a crowd packed a closed Washington Street in front of the Tecumseh police station for a candlelight vigil.

And just days after Terney’s death, District Attorney Richard Smothermon filed formal first-degree murder charges against the man accused of murdering the young officer, with prosecutors also releasing some of the footage taken by Terney's patrol car dash camera during the traffic stop.

The suspect, Byron James Shepard, 36, was still hospitalized from his gunshot wounds when he was formally charged on March 29, 2017. Upon release, he was transferred to the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center, where he has remained jailed without bond. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty upon conviction and Shepard's jury trial is scheduled in June.

The driver of the vehicle stopped by Terney that night, Brooklyn Danielle Williams, 23, was initially jailed on a complaint of harboring a fugitive, but was later charged with second-degree murder. She remains jailed and her next court date is scheduled May 1.

Terney, who is remembered as always being ready for a laugh and often joked about how he only needed no-bake cookies and chocolate milk to be happy, enjoyed being a cop and aspired to one day become a K-9 officer. On his own, he acquired a puppy, Onyx, and planned to train him to work the streets of Tecumseh.

Terney never got that chance, but Onyx, now a working K-9 in Pottawatomie County, turned out to be everything Terney dreamed he could be – and so much more.

A year later

Today, the puppy Terney saw so much potential in has completed his K-9 training and is now a full-time, certified narcotics K-9 officer handled by Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Deputy Jared Strand in honor of the Tecumseh Police Department.

Onyx is continuing the work Terney dreamed of doing – with Onyx already having great success on patrols in Pottawatomie County, including a two-pound marijuana discovery in recent weeks.

In the past year, the Tecumseh Police Department has been through a few changes, but Terney is never far from the minds of his fellow officers.

Earlier this year, longtime Tecumseh Police Chief Gary Crosby, who led his department through its darkest hours, days and weeks after Terney’s death, retired from a lifelong career serving the city of Tecumseh for 39 years.

His Assistant Police Chief, J.R. Kidney, who is now serving as the department's acting chief, said as the one-year anniversary of Terney's death approaches, the department and its officers are still healing.

“We've had some tough times,” Kidney said, “but the support of the citizens has been great.”

Kidney said many things remind them of Terney and they miss their co-worker and friend.

Something that has helped the department, Kidney said, is that he attended a training event specifically designed for police departments that have experienced the loss of an officer — and he was able to bring that training back to Tecumseh and provide it to the entire department.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol also has a peer support group, he said, and that program has been very helpful to the department as well.

Just inside the police department foyer, a tribute wall of items sent to the department in Terney's memory — and even a painting of Terney — reminds officers daily what Terney meant to them and the community.

And on Tuesday, March 27, as officers mark the one-year anniversary of Terney's death, the Tecumseh Police Department also will unveil its new Tecumseh Fallen Officers Memorial, which includes the names of three Tecumseh officers killed in the line of duty in the Tecumseh Police Department's history, including Terney.

Ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in front of the Tecumseh Police Department on Washington Street.

Terney's named was added last April to the Pottawatomie County Fallen Heroes Memorial in front of the Pottawatomie County courthouse.

In addition to those local memorials, Kidney said Terney's name will soon be added to both the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Memorial in Oklahoma City and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.

During Police Week, which is held each year in May, thousands converge on Washington D.C. at the national memorial to pay tribute to officers lost in the past year.

Terney's family and four Tecumseh police officers will travel to Washington D.C. for those ceremonies, Kidney said.