Photo of a deceased man with his best friend

The deceased (right) poses with best friend Rodney Peace, who was taken into police custody mid-funeral.

No parent should ever have to bury their child, but leave it to one local police department to take an already-heartbreaking occasion and turn it into a nightmare.

Donna Watson was gathered with friends and family for a funeral ceremony following the sudden death of her 31-year-old son Troy. The service had just gotten underway in the Virginia church when a dozen armed police officers in tactical gear decided to disrupt the funeral. Apparently, Troy’s best friend Rodney Peace – in attendance that afternoon – was wanted on a number of criminal charges.

Instead of waiting for the ceremony to conclude to take Peace into custody, authorities barged into the crowded church mid-ceremony to grab him, leaving attendees in shock and one grieving mother beside herself.

“I will never have an opportunity for a do-over on my son’s funeral – never,” Donna Watson wrote in a Facebook post. “There was standing room only in the chapel, so you can imagine the scene. After being taken outside the chapel, (Peace) begged the officers to please let him go back in because this was, and always had been his best friend. They handcuffed him, and let him sit outside the chapel doors to listen to the service.”

Peace was supposed to speak at the funeral but was ultimately unable to do so.

Police holding guns and riot gear

Police have been facing criticism for callousness and over-aggressive policing. This latest funeral raid is unlikely to change that perception.

Funeral Crashers

Donna Watson slammed the police response as “inconsiderate” and “heartless” and demanded to know why the arrest of her dead son’s best friend couldn’t have waited until after he was put to rest. Many online seemed to agree.

But authorities argued it was the right thing to do. Police Lt. Paul Intravia insisted that although the timing was “unfortunate”, officers had little choice but to act on reports Peace was at the funeral. “We had been looking for him for some time and he has avoided arrest since October last year,” he explained to reporters.

Intravia was quick to point out Troy Watson’s final goodbye – and Peace’s role in it – was not their only consideration. “We have a victim that’s involved in this as well and their rights are just as important as his right to say goodbye to his friend. They could have simply escorted him out when they first made contact and brought him directly to jail.”

Was There a Better Way?

That very same debate was then waged on social media, where police supporters and detractors traded jabs. One commenter argued the police tactics were poor: “They could have waited and some could have (dressed) in plain clothes like a suit,” and police had zero consideration for “how the deceased family would feel about having their family member’s funeral be disrespected.”

“Arrest warrants aren’t executed with the criminal’s convenience in mind,” another person shot back. “There is no, ‘sorry to bother you, you’re wanted on ‘x’ charges. Is now a good time to take you down or should we come back when you’re ready.’”

“Rather than blaming police for protecting citizens by putting away criminals,” wrote another, “why not maybe, blame criminals for their actions that cause painful consequences to innocent people around them?”

Paying (Dis)respect

Regardless of your affinity for maintaining law and order, it is worth asking if police officers should consider the moral implications of raiding a funeral – particularly when the family involved has no part in any alleged crime.

As Donna Watson noted, there is no “do-over” when it comes to a family member’s funeral. The memory of that event will now forever be tainted by an ill-timed police raid that some argue was avoidable.

It certainly seems a curious decision – especially in an era when police tactics are under increased scrutiny and police departments are constantly searching for ways to bond with the community and increase public support. Finding another option for detaining the best friend could have helped the cops save some face – not to mention shielding a grieving mother from additional stress and embarrassment. But too late now.

 

35 comments

  1. Joe says:

    Criminals rights are less important than protecting potential victims.
    The story doesn’t mention cod on the dead guy but chances are it was chrime related.

  2. Jim says:

    Right on point Joe. There is a lot of info missing on the initial article. COD for the dead guy, what exactly is the best friend wanted for? the police had been trying to find him since last Oct. sounds like some folks have been helping to hide him. Way to much info missing, and if they have to disrupt the service to get him so be it.

  3. Jason D Bender says:

    Hopewell Police Lieutenant Paul Intravia said Peace was wanted for credit fraud and failure to appear, and he had a preliminary protective order taken out against him for family abuse.

    YAWN!!!

  4. Joe says:

    Guess it wasn’t your I’d stolen

  5. Carl Elfstrom says:

    Sue the pigs!!! At least get some compensate on. That will make the mother feel better.

    1. bob says:

      Yep, Carl, sue the cops! It’s their fault! They offended the poor ole lawbreaker and his misunderstood family. Let’s focus attention on the whining ‘mother’ instead of the credit card victim and abused family members. Boo-hoo!
      This miserable miscreant has been on the run, hiding from responsibility and accountability.
      This ‘big man’ abusing family members. (takes lotta balls to work the family over, eh?)
      This cheating thief was ‘inconvenienced’ by the police who were doing their job. Boo-hoo, poor ole waste of space!
      You, Carl, represent the growing stench of bleeding hearts, of soppy do-gooders who belittle authority, and of those parading the criminal/crime to the detriment of civility and the law abiding.

    2. bob says:

      ‘Sue the pigs!’ Yes, Carl, and your ‘brains’ are between your buttocks .

      In the book of Romans, it says plainly all authority is ordained of God. So, when you badmouth/abuse the police, you are criticizing God’s appointed agents of civil order. .. . . . to your peril!

      This miscreant, HE was a fugitive, HE brought all this shame/discord upon HIMself and family. HE subjectied HIMself to the attention of the police, who were doing their jobs.

      If you’ve the integrity/objectivity/intelligence to properly analyze this situation, you’ll NOT blame the authorities.

  6. John Owens says:

    I don’t know. I think the police raid MADE the funeral. Now, EVERYONE there will remember it. I don’t see the problem, unless you just hate police anyway. Never heard anything about the deceased’s father, here, what he thought about it.

    1. Chad V. Westfall says:

      You think they were actually sexy stripper cops, like they have at the Chinese funerals? If so, THEY DESERVE TIPS 💸💸💸

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        The church organist should have at least played the song that goes “Bad boys, bad boys, what are you going to do when they come for you, bad boys,bad boys! Personally John, I think very highly of the police, have never been convicted of a crime, have only been arrested three times, twice for fighting and one disorderly conduct, have more than five years full time experience working in security, and have diplomas for courses I took in security, paralegal studies, private investigating, and military training, among others. I also think of myself as a patriotic American, and I am a registered voter who prefers to vote Republican. I’m also left handed, and an Aquarius. However, I still say that woman should sue those pigs!

  7. Clarence says:

    I wonder if the cops recorded a lip sync battle video during the raid 🤔

  8. Joe says:

    What a beautiful outpouring of sympathy!

  9. Just an opinion says:

    The comments that are being posted are totally unnecessary. What ever happened to if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. We live in a world that is so full of hate. It was a funeral, the friend was wanted for a crime, were there other options for the arrest probably so. In a perfect world none of this would have happened in the first place. There wouldn’t have been a funeral, there wouldn’t have been crime committed, there wouldn’t be any nasty comments being posted. Stop all the hate an opinion can be expressed without hate or malice. Hearts have to soften or our children are going to be living in pathetic and miserable world. My condolences to the family of deceased. And I pray that the friend gets his life together. Because when all is said and done all this is his fault. If he had been a thinking man he would have chosen a different life path. All this would have been prevented. But now it’s done and the only thing that can be done is to pray for them and ourselves.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Haven’t you ever heard “Opinions are like a–holes. We all have one, and they all stink. Yours and mine included.

  10. Joe says:

    Living in a State that favors criminals it is refreshing.

  11. JOLENE MARCELLA TRAVIS says:

    So why was your son hanging around woetworth criminals in the first place?????? Go Cops!!!!

  12. rebadams7 says:

    There are a lot of ways to bring someone into custody that do not require heavy handed tactics in the face of a group of already traumatized morning people. Was there some other reason they decided that barnstorming a funeral was a great idea? These officers of the law these people who are set to serve and protect seem to have gotten some priorities skewed

  13. Stephanie Willey says:

    I’ll bet that if Rodney Peace was white, the police would have walked in to a funeral and calmly, even quietly said to him, “We have a warrant for your arrest. Will you come peacefully ?”.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Stephanie, I bet you’re not white.

  14. Minister Dave says:

    Hate to say it police are turning into paramilitary. At 63 and a minister since 1974 I am actually afraid of police
    Had to flee a wild fire. Went to Santa Rosa California for a hotel until danger passed. As I was inventorying my gear I’m told to lay on ground🤔
    Then he left

  15. Lori Mongillo says:

    We’ll never know for sure, Stephanie. It’s like Jim said, there’s too much missing from the article. People in charge don’t always make the right decisions…..and criminals don’t think about what they do to the people around them. This was a no win situation that cannot really be defined. Everyone can try to pick sides, but it really is a fools game to do so.

  16. Tom says:

    If the criminal was suspected of being armed, the police action was correct…if there was no such suspicion, the police could have either blocked all exits and arrested the criminal as he was leaving, or sent in 2 plain-clothes detectives to quietly tell the criminal he had to come with them, after which it would be up to the criminal whether or not to disrupt the funeral by resisting…the latter is the tactic employed when ICE hears of a defendant in a court for another reason, and they do not want to disrupt the court…Peace…Tom

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Then again Tom, the church could have been called “Criminals For Christ.”bob might even be the pastor of it. Or maybe it’s in a very bad part of town, or they’ve had multiple arrests of violent offenders in that church. The police could have very justifiable reasons for their actions. And considering that the police are the police, and have a pretty good track record, I’d give them the benefit of a doubt. But don’t listen to me. I’ve got four seasons of Walker Texas Ranger on DVD, and five seasons of the X-Files,which are two of my favorite shows. And I watched an episode of Highlander today, and plan to watch another one tonight. I just got the fourth season in the mail from Amazon, a few days ago. Atleast I didn’t say to draw your sword…peace…love…kisses…Carl

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        P.S. I’ve missed you, Tom. Glad you’re back. I also miss Rabbi Jim, and John Maher. I hope they’re alright. And we haven’t heard much from good ol’Linda Happeny lately either. I wonder what’s up with that. Just in case they feel discouraged, and don’t think we appreciate their comments, I, for one, would like to say that I really do, and miss y’all too.

  17. Rev. Brien says:

    Yet another story meant to incite hatred for the police. This time ULC you have truly disgusted me. Allow me to break this down for you:
    #1: Society has created laws that everyone in this country is expected to live by.
    #2: We EMPLOY people to enforce those laws in order to PROTECT the general public. They are called POLICE.
    #3: When you NEED a police officer you are DAMN happy when one shows up.
    #4: If you break the law, the Police will arrest you, you are a criminal.
    #5: Evading the police puts others at risk, making your crime worse.
    #6: Obey an officers’ instructions. Resisting an officer will get you injured or killed.

    Conclusion: STOP BLAMING the Police for criminal activity. Blame the…CRIMINAL!
    Once again, I have written this as simply as possible. I do not give a fiddlers damn as to your opinion as this is NOT open to interpretation.

    1. Marilyn E Gibson says:

      Yes!!!!

  18. Michael Mangold says:

    It was deliberately meant to humiliate. Cops are heirs of the CIA’s psych-ops. They now operate with the “Us vs. Them” mentality. And guess what? Even with all the “law is the law” posturing, you ain’t one of “us.”

    Get off your high horses. Even though the woman caught in adultery broke the “law,” Jesus showed us we have no right to throw the first stone. The average American knowingly or unknowingly commits three felonies a day. Dwell on that the next time you feel the need to condemn someone else.

    1. Jim says:

      SO you condemn the cops for doing their job? I do not commit 3 felonies a day and I would say I’m an average American. I would like to know the life you lead if your committing 3 felonies a day.

      1. Carl Elfstrom says:

        I can’t even remember the last time I committed a felony. It’s really been that long ago. Thank God I’ve never been caught for other than a few misdemeanors, and have never had to spend more than a week at the Galveston County Hilton.

      2. Marilyn E Gibson says:

        Good question

    2. Rev. Brien says:

      Hmmm, get off my “high horse”? I chose to blame the criminal and not the MEN and WOMEN that we employ to protect us from the criminal. It seems that you on the other hand have some weird possibly drug induced vision of the police. When you need a police officer, they will still show up to help you, even if your view of them is distorted. You are proof that the country that I love so much is finally starting to circle the drain. You want to throw around the name of Jesus? When all hell finally breaks lose, maybe Jesus will send a cop to help you. Then again, if he answers my prayer, he will let you live with your choices.

  19. T'Keren Valmaz says:

    This is classic damn society to capture a individual that had no meaningful criminal history. He had yet to be convicted of any crime. they had not even charged him with failure to appear which was his only easily proven bit of wrong doing.

    Using a social gathering meant to bring closure to take down an at best white collar criminal( which he isnt until convicted) is typical sloppy police work.

    It would of been far more civil to put a tail on him at the funeral and wait till he had gone off on his own. It would of also reduced risk as taking some down in a heavily populated church is a recipe for civilian casualties if violence does break out on either side.

    Imagine if something as common as him reaching for a cell phone to call his lawyer had resulted in cops discharging their weapons.

    It just reeks of incompetence on the part of the so called civil servants aka the blue mafia that puts making their arrest quota over all other considerations.

  20. William Waugh says:

    Naw….this whole story is bs. The crook and deseased were best friends?????? Probly helped hide him from the po-po. I did not vote for our current crooked president, but, this is the kind of swamps that need drained!

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      William, if he’s not your crooked president too, you must not be an American. I didn’t vote for him either, but he is still our president, and as such deserves our respect and honor. I’d be the first to vote to impeach Trump, but until he leaves office, don’t forget that he is our president, like it or not.

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