NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN
I N MEMORY O F. . .
JANUARY 19, 1991
For Officer Danny Parrish, 29, it must
have had all the markings of a routine
traffic stop — 18-year-old Billy Leon
Kearse was driving the wrong way down
a one-way street. When Kearse couldn’t
produce a driver license and provided
several aliases, Parrish attempted to
handcuff him. In the resulting scuffle,
Kearse grabbed Parrish’s gun and shot
him 13 times before fleeing.
A passing taxi driver stopped and called for help using
Parrish’s radio. Although Parrish wore a bullet-proof vest, he
died from his injuries and was promoted to sergeant.
When arrested, Kearse confessed and was sentenced to
death. Several appeals have been denied.
Jim Tedder was a detective on the case. “When we brought
Kearse in for his interview, the entire hallway was filled with
officers and their wives. I never saw anything like it.”
Tedder says he doesn’t know if he’ll still be around when
Kearse enters the execution chamber. “I don’t know if I’d
go. I still wrestle with that. There’s a handful of cases I think
about every day, and Danny’s is at the top of the list.”
The thin blue line symbolizes the role of law
enforcement in creating civil order in the midst
of chaos but also the tenuous line between life
and death that police officers walk each day. Fort
Pierce Police Department has lost four officers in
the last century.
On Oct. 29, 2022, a multi-agency honor guard
unveiled the sign for the Sgt. Danny Parrish Fallen
First Responders Park on U.S. 1 across the street
from police headquarters. It is named for the most
recent city officer to die in the line of duty.
The city also unveiled a life-sized statue patterned
after Parrish. Designed to represent all first
responders, including both law enforcement and
fire and rescue, it stands in front of the department,
a hand frozen in salute at the nation’s flag.
The Fort Pierce City Commission approved the
initiative in 2018. The Fort Pierce Police Department
Charitable Trust was behind efforts to
rename the park and raise $57,000 for the statue.
JULY 17, 1966
When Officer Willie B. Ellis and
Officer Clifford Minus responded to
a domestic disturbance call, Eugene
Emerson shot both officers. Minus
survived; Ellis, 43, was promoted
posthumously to sergeant. In 2000,
the city dedicated the Avenue D
Substation to his memory.
JANUARY 12, 1987
Lt. Grover Cooper and Detective
Jimmy Wouters, backed up by
other officers and part of a joint
investigation with the St. Lucie
County Sheriff’s Office, approached
a White City home suspected of
illegal drug activity. Cooper, 31,
headed the police department’s drug
investigation unit. He and Wouters,
33, entered, identifying themselves
as law enforcement, and a gunfight
ensued. Cooper was killed. Wouters
later died at the hospital. Officer
Robert Spring also was wounded,
Cooper and Wouters were
promoted posthumously to captain
and sergeant, respectively. Exactly
25 years later, the city renamed the
main station for the Fort Pierce
Police Department the Grover C.
Cooper III, James A. Wouters Main
Willie B. Ellis
Lt. Grover Cooper Officer