Captain Justin Bedwell to be honored at Police Week after getting killed in the line of duty
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCTV) - In March 2021, Katherine Bedwell, her daughter, Maddie, Sheriff Wiley Griffin and the Decatur County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office said goodbye to a part of their family, Captain Justin Bedwell.
Captain Bedwell was killed in the line of duty one month prior.
His patrol car was ambushed with gunfire during a vehicle pursuit.
Recently, WCTV’s Abby Walton sat down with Katherine and has more on what life is like for them, one year later.
Katherine Bedwell said the past year has taught her that life is too shore and to live life to the fullest.
It’s a mantra she and her daughter, Maddie repeat when the reality of losing a husband and “best buddy” becomes too much.
“We enjoyed our time together and I thank God every day, even thought it was short, that I had that. He made me a better mother, a better teacher, a better friend, just an all-around better person,” Katherine Bedwell said.
Katherine and Justin Bedwell were together for five years and married for two.
With the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office for almost 20 years, Katherine said Justin made it clear from the very beginning how much he loved his job.
“He always said growing up, according to his mom, that he wanted to be in law enforcement,” Katherine said.
Katherine said his passion and big heart made it easy for her to fall in love with him.
But what really sealed the deal was his love for her daughter, Maddie.
“They didn’t celebrate Father’s Day because that was her daddy’s day. They had their own day, Best Buddy Day. And they would go off on an adventure and it was his little girl that he always wanted,” Katherine said.
The past year, Katherine said, has been extremely tough on Maddie, who was ten years old when Captain Bedwell died.
“As a mother, watching your child grieve, it’s terrible,” Katherine said.
For Maddie, Katherine said her grief often comes out as anger.
“She said, ‘I’m not angry at anybody, but the two men that did this. And I said, ‘that’s okay.’ And she said, ‘I pray every day that God takes this anger from me.’ And this coming from an 11-year-old. That speaks a lot,” Katherine said.
That’s why Katherine said she and Maddie are looking forward to going to Police Week in Washington, D.C. this year to connect with other families.
“I’m excited to meet people that we can stay in contact with, share our journey as we go through the grieving process because it’s different, but yet we’re all grieving the same type of loss,” Katherine said.
It’s a loss, not just felt by Captain Bedwell’s family.
“These officers do become part of the family. You depend on them. They back you up and it becomes a very close-knit family. And it’s devastating, not only to that agency but to the community,” Sheriff Griffin said.
It’s a community that Katherine said continues to support her and Maddie as they adjust to this new normal.
“I hope it’s something other families never have to face,” Katherine said.
Captain Justin Bedwell was 48 years old.
Besides Katherine and Maddie, he’s also survived by his mother who is also attending Police Week with them.
If you’d like to watch tonight’s candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., visit this link.
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