TAMPA, Fla. — A powerful tribute Thursday night as the Tampa community honors a fallen hero.
Master Patrol Officer Jesse Madsen died Tuesday morning after veering into the path of a wrong-way driver on I-275.
Police Chief Brian Dugan said the driver, Joshua Montague, was intoxicated and reaching speeds of 100 miles per hour.
Thursday night, hundreds gathered to pay their respects at Tampa Police’s Roll Call of Honor.
“This monument reminds you that no matter how vigilant, brave, and careful you are during the performance of your duties, you are still vulnerable,” said Dugan. “It reminds you to continue to be vigilant and stand tall for the spirit of our fallen will watch over you.”
It was an emotional moment when Dugan wrapped his arms around Madsen’s family after the unveiling of the fallen officer’s name on the memorial.
“The family doesn’t want to feel alone,” said retired TPD officer Scott Heims. “They want to see the support behind them. The city and the department are always great backing a family when an officer dies in the line of duty.”
Madsen was honored with the department’s Life-Saving Award seven times during his 16-year career.
He will be awarded another Life Saving Award posthumously for his heroic actions Tuesday.
“I met him as a teenager. I was in the projects and I have already had a label on me,” said Julian Mitchell.
Mitchell crossed paths with Madsen during a criminal investigation. Mitchell said it was Madsen who went to bat for him after he was falsely arrested for robbing a convenience store.
“He goes and get his superior and takes his badge off and he was willing to give up his whole occupation and everything he worked so hard to be, which was law enforcement, to let them know that they got the wrong person.”
The two always stayed in touch over the years and Mitchell credits Madsen with helping him succeed in life.
“He showed me a lot of positivity and a lot of love and he kept working with the positivity with me and I think it kind of inspired me to be a whole lot greater in life, to be honest.”
Madsen’s funeral service is Tuesday, March 16, at 11 a.m. at Idlewild Baptist Church.