Benny Napoleon’s brother, daughter share their memories

Beloved sheriff dies after month-long battle with COVID-19

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon's brother, daughter share their memories

DETROIT – The family of Benny Napoleon is in shock, devastated by their loss.

Napoleon’s daughter, Tiffani Jackson, and his brother, Hilton Napoleon, said the beloved sheriff would not want people to be sad, but would want people to stay vigilant to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19.

READ: Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon dies from COVID-19

“It’s a devastating because the doctors had told us that Benny was doing well on Monday,” Hilton Napoleon said. “He got an infection on Wednesday and they were working on it and they couldn’t control it and it shut all his organs down.”

“It’s all feels surreal, to be honest,” Jackson said. “I was at his bedside. I was there. I saw it, but it’s kind of like that state of shock, and is this really the reality?”

The family said they’re using their faith to get through this period.

Hilton Napoleon spent more than two months in the hospital fighting coronavirus himself. He and his brother did everything together.

“After I got out of hospital, I told my brother, ‘Benny, you do not want to catch this,’” Hilton Napoleon said. “And he did everything that he could to protect himself. And we believe he got it under unusual circumstances.”

“I hadn’t hugged my father since March,” Jackson said. “He was being very cautious. Even with myself and even with my son, who he was in love with. He was being very cautious with us.”

Both Benny and Hilton dedicated their lives to their communities. Hilton said it happened on accident.

“Our fathers always taught us to help people and this was a a good way out, a good avenue,” Hilton Napoleon said. “Because, trust me, nobody were stopped as teenagers more than me and my brother. One time we got stopped like five times before we could get over to the east side to visit my grandmother. We got stopped five times and so we said ‘Well, maybe we can make it better.’”

Jackson said she shared her father with the public every day of her life and she’s grateful for the outpouring of support.

“Everything that he did, he did from a sincere and a genuine place. Everything that he did, he did for the greater good of the citizens of Detroit and Wayne County,” Jackson said. “He did it with integrity. He did it out of passion. It was truly his calling and he loved every moment of it.”

As the family grieves, they want to share an important message.

“You don’t want to have to experience this,” Hilton Napoleon said. “You don’t want that to happen. I did not want it to happen.”

“It has claimed the life of my best friend and my father,” Jackson said. “If nothing else, see the grieving heart of the daughters today and know that it is real. It is real and it is impacting families. It is ripping families to shreds and you can do your part, to stop that.”

About the Authors:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.