Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel ‘Manny’ Familia: fellow officers, relatives pay their respects during call hours on Wednesday

A line of black-clad mourners meandered along the steps of St. John’s Church in Worcester, across Temple Street and into an adjacent parking lot.

Next to the church doors, a woman hugged a policeman in a tight embrace. Others wiped away tears.

Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia’s calling hours drew crowds of officers and civilians, all honoring Familia’s ultimate sacrifice last week.

Hailed as a hero, Familia died on Friday while trying to save a 14-year-old boy from drowning in the pond in Green Hill Park. Despite her best efforts, Familia and the teenager, Troy Love of Virginia, did not make it out of the water alive.

Familia, 38, leaves his 22-year-old wife, Jennifer, and two children, Jayla, 17, and Jovan, 13, as well as her parents.

A cruiser draped in black streamers, its flickering blue and red lights, was solemnly parked in front of the church, a reminder of the lost life. The mounted unit trotted down the street, passing mourners wearing black ribbons with a thin blue line. A woman quickly put down a basket of white flowers.

A representative of the Dominican Republic consulate arrived at the church with a folded flag in his hand, an offering to thank the Familia family for the officer’s heroism.

Scott Lumenello, who said he worked with Familia many years ago at the Youth Services Department, recalled the officer simply as a “really good guy”. His eyes were glassy as he left the church.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito were among the officials who stopped to pay their respects.

A Worcester officer for five years, Familia previously worked as an officer at Clark University, the Quinsigamond Community College Police Department and Oakham.

A funeral mass, also at St. John’s Church, is scheduled for Thursday morning. About 300 motorcyclists are expected to participate in a procession from the Mercadante funeral home to the church, and Familia’s body will be escorted by a horse-drawn carriage.

The funeral could draw up to 10,000 mourners, city officials predicted. Calls have come in from law enforcement officials planning to attend services as far away as Ireland.

At around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Love was struggling in the middle of the pond in Green Hill Park and two other people had entered to try to help her. Familia and four other officers were sent to the park. All five rushed into the pond.

During this rescue effort, two young people were pulled from the water. But the officers then realized that Familia and Love were missing.

Divers brought Familia back to shore at 2:28 p.m. Love was found at 3:25 p.m. The two were taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

Familia was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, before moving to Worcester as a young boy. In 2001, he graduated from Doherty Memorial High School in the city. He attended Quinsigamond Community College and was most recently pursuing a Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree from Anna Maria College.

Relatives said it had an impact on the Worcester Police Department. He was a member of the Ministry’s Tactical Patrol Force and Crisis Response Team and also served as a crisis negotiator and recruiting officer. Recently he was training to join the SWAT team.

Outside of service, Familia was devoted to the community of Worcester. He was on the department’s basketball team and represented the department in charitable work.

“When Manny had some free time, he remained very active as a basketball coach for St. Peter’s Church,” the officer’s obituary read. “He also loved watching his son play baseball. He also enjoyed vacationing in Florida and going to the beach with his family.

As memories flooded in from the weekend, Familia was remembered for her work ethic, love for her children and for her ‘contagious’ laughter.

Clark University Police Chief Lauren Misale, who previously worked with Familia, said the community was heartbroken.

“Manny had a smile that lit up the room, could joke with the best of them, and his laughter was infectious. His children were everything to him. You could see in his eyes every time he brought them in to play ball or talked about how proud he was of them, ”she said.

Donations to help Familia’s family came from across the country. A memorial fund has been set up, as well as a GoFundMe page.

A GoFundMe page has also been created to help pay for Love’s memorial services.

“Troy was a great young man, he talked about wanting to join the military when he could, he loved video games and hung out with his older brother,” the page read. “His best friend was his cousin Brian.”

Sadly, the grief felt by the Worcester community is all too common. In just over 20 years, the city has suffered a dozen deaths in the line of duty.

The last time a Worcester police officer died in the line of duty was in 2012, a spokesperson for the department said. Peter Kneeland died of injuries sustained in 1991 after being struck by a service vehicle.

The Worcester Fire Department suffered a string of casualties dating back to 1999, when the “Worcester 6” was killed in a fire at the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building.. Since then, the department has mourned the deaths of Firefighter Jon D. Davies Sr. in 2011, Firefighter Christopher Roy in 2018, Fire Lt. John Kennedy in 2019, and Fire Lt. Jason Menard, also in 2019.

A number of roads will be closed Thursday during Familia’s funeral. Worcester Police are asking drivers to plan ahead.

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