When inmates from a Georgia jailed learned that a police officer was killed in the line of duty, they got together to pay tribute to him in the most unexpected and heartfelt way.
A gold star for 20 inmates at the Gwinnett County jail. Last month, 30-year-old Officer Antwan Toney was shot and killed in the line of duty. Deputies say the officer was responding to the call of a suspicious vehicle on October 21st and was struck by a bullet. The young officer was just a few days shy of celebrating his third year with the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.
When the inmates at Gwinnett County jail heard the tragic news, twenty of them got together to pen a letter of condolences to Toney’s family and colleagues.
They began with the inmates writing, “With all due respect. On behalf of myself and a number of fellow prisoners who are currently serving time in the Gwinnett County Detention Center, I wish to extend condolences to Officer Toney’s family and the GFSO brotherhood as a whole.
The inmates wrote “This was a tragic incident that never should have occurred. And though law enforcement and criminals may be opposites, the intrinsic value of a human life transcends those boundaries by far. ”
The letter goes on to explain how all police officers, military and first responders should be honored- “your services and sacrifice make the world a better place for all.”
The two-page letter was posted Saturday on the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. The officers wrote in their caption:
“Our community has made it abundantly clear that they share our heartache at the loss of Gwinnett County Police Department’s Officer Antwan Toney, who gave his life in the service of others three weeks ago today.
We’ve never seen a greater show of community support than we did as Officer Toney’s family led the procession following his memorial service. Amazing citizens lined the streets for miles and miles. We saw people on crutches, in wheelchairs and holding canes standing outside for hours to pay their respects. We saw school children whose parents signed them out of school to honor our slain brother. These meaningful acts humbled every law enforcement officer who witnessed them.
There have since been countless kind gestures from school rooms to ball fields expressing deep appreciation and respect for our fallen hero. We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and empathy.
We wanted to share yet another kind gesture with you today to honor Officer Toney and the incredible impact he’s left on our community.
Sheriff Butch Conway received a heartfelt letter from the most unlikely group of citizens expressing their sorrow at our loss and their support of law enforcement. The return address on the envelope is our own because the letter was sent by a group of inmates currently housed in our jail.
The department did not mention the names of the inmates to protect their privacy.
“We’re not including their names to protect their privacy, but we’re deeply appreciative of this act of kindness from these men,” they wrote in the caption. “We think that Officer Toney would also be appreciative of their actions and we hope you are, too.”
The post has received over 1,900 likes, and it goes on to show that inmates are people who have a heart too.
“Not all criminals are bad people,” one man commented.
The Sheriff’s office responded to the comments saying, “obviously these men have been treated with respect while being held in the Gwinnett Jail. We do have good people who have done something they shouldn’t have; we treat them with respect. The media wants you to believe we torture and mistreat people in our custody. Much less than 1% would complain, with those being mentally ill or on drugs when we receive them.”
Deputies added, responding to another viewer, ” these inmates’ greatest wish was that their words would reach Officer Toney’s family.