Sterling Heights officer's widow: NYC police need support

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – Yvonne Sawyers knows what the families of the ambushed officers in New York are going through. She lived it 11 years ago and is living it today.

"Some days it feels like yesterday, and then sometimes it feels like forever," she said.

On June 4, 2004, Sawyers' husband, Sterling Heights police officer Mark Sawyers, was ambushed by a man with a shotgun in a parking lot at 15 Mile and Van Dyke roads. The attacker wanted officer Sawyers' pistol. He got it and killed himself with it days later in Florida.

At home, Yvonne was with the couple's daughter, Lilly, who was just 11 months old at the time.

"Just this morning I was thinking about coming here and I was thinking about the day she was born, and thinking about spending that time with him in the hospital room and watching his face, or seeing the first time she said 'da-da' and he lit up at her first word. That seems like yesterday," said Yvonne.

She said she cried when she heard two officers in New York City also were murdered in an ambush. She said community support has helped her. She feels the support to this day, and she said the New York officers and their families need that same support.

"I remember the day of the funeral, one of the things that sticks out in my mind is the people that stopped in the middle of the road and got out of their car and seeing their hats of their heart. There were a couple of schools along the way to the cemetery and all the children were outside lined up along the road, waving American flags. That spoke volumes to me. It made me believe that most of mankind is good," she said.

The Sterling Heights Police Department released a statement which read, in part:

"June 4th, 2004 was one of the darkest days in Sterling Heights' history as our own police officer, Mark Sawyers was killed by a gunman in the line of duty. As the funerals take place beginning tomorrow for fallen officers Liu and Ramos, Sterling Heights stands in unison with New York City supporting the officers that protect our great cities."

About the Author:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.