TECUMSEH, Okla. – It’s been two years since a young Tecumseh police officer was murdered in the line of duty.
What should have been a normal traffic stop on March 26, 2017, ended in 22-year-old Officer Justin Terney’s death.
Now, two years later, the Tecumseh Police Department continues to honor and remember their friend, co-worker and brother in blue.
“Join us today as we remember Officer Justin Terney. Today marks two years since our friend, co-worker and brother in blue was murdered.
Officer Justin Terney who was just 22 years old and had worked for the Tecumseh Police Department for one year when his life was cut short on March 27th, 2017.
On the evening of March 26th around 1130 PM, Officer Justin Terney was shot while pursuing a fleeing subject.
Officer Terney conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle near Gordon Cooper Drive and Benson Park Road. The passenger of the vehicle, who had warrants fled on foot and Officer Terney pursued him. Officer Terney deployed his taser, but it had no effect on the man. The subject then drew a firearm and shot Officer Terney several times. Officer Terney was able to return fire, striking the subject numerous times.
Officer Terney was transported to OU Medical Center where he died from his wounds the next morning.
Rest in peace Justin, your life mattered and your legacy will live on forever.”
At around 11:30 p.m. that night, Terney was attempting to pull over a vehicle near Gordon Cooper Drive and Benson Park Road.
When the vehicle stopped, the passenger, identified as 36-year-old Byron Shepard, got out of the car and began speaking with Terney. At one point, Shepard took off running into a wooded area.
Terney was able to tase Shepard, but police said he was unaffected by the taser.
That’s when officers said Shepard allegedly shot Officer Terney multiple times. Officer Terney returned fire, striking Shepard multiple times.
They were both rushed to nearby hospitals, and Terney underwent surgery.
However, Terney died the next day from his injuries.
He had only been working with the Tecumseh Police Department for one year.
The driver of the vehicle, Brooklyn Williams, was sentenced to 25 years earlier this month for second-degree murder for her role in Terney's death.
"She had absolutely no emotion," Terney's sister, Tonisha Rapp, told News 4 of Williams' trial. "I put a lot of responsibility on her. I feel, and I think our family feels, that at any point, she could have stopped this."
"I am glad that the jury did give her 25 years, at the very least. I'm glad at least 22 years, because that's how old Justin was when his life was taken from him," Rapp added.
Shepard's trial was postponed last year. According to Oklahoma court records, his trial is expected to begin later this year.
He is facing charges of first-degree murder, knowingly concealing stolen property and possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
Prosecutors say they are seeking the death penalty in the case since Shepard met five of eight aggravating circumstances that warrant a death sentence.
Terney's legacy lives on, however, not only with family, friends, and the community, but also on a 4-mile section of U.S. 177 in Oklahoma that has been dedicated as the "Officer Justin Terney Memorial Highway."
In March 2018, the Tecumseh Police Department unveiled a memorial for their fallen officers, with Terney being one of them.
And, he was also one of several fallen Oklahoma law enforcement officers honored during a candlelight vigil held at the Nation Mall in Washington, D.C. last year.
"Rest in peace Justin, your life mattered and your legacy will live on forever," Tecumseh police said.