DETROIT – Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon has died Thursday after a battle with COVID-19, officials say.
He was 65 years old.
Napoleon was hospitalized late last month. He tested negative Nov. 13, but on Nov. 17 he experienced a rise in temperature. That is when his primary care doctor conducted a second test. He was notified about testing positive for the virus two days later.
Since March, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has lost one commander and two deputies to COVID-19.
Family and co-workers held a prayer vigil for Napoleon last month after he was put on a ventilator -- a decision his family said he made to allow his body to heal.
“Thank you to everyone for their prayers and to continue praying for the family,” said his daughter, Tiffani Jackson.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy released a statement:
“I cannot even begin to imagine a world without Benny in it. He was a beloved, iconic, and respected law enforcement official. He was progressive and he was old school. He was tough and he had a heart of gold. But most of all, he was a genuine, caring, and loyal friend and colleague. I will miss him forever.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan released a statement on Napoleon’s passing:
“I am shocked and saddened at the loss of one of our city’s greatest public servants and native sons, Benny Napoleon.
I cannot think of a leader in this town who has been more loved and admired than Benny. He was born in the city, served our community courageously his entire adult life, and loved Detroit as much as anyone I’ve ever known.
Please keep his daughter Tiffani, his family and friends, and the entire Wayne County sheriffs office in your prayers as they struggle with their painful loss.”
Statement from U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, Eastern District of Michigan:
“I always enjoyed spending time with Benny. We worked together closely on law enforcement matters to protect the families and neighborhoods of Wayne County. Through those challenging times, Benny’s smile always brightened our days.”
Here is the full statement from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office:
“Having conducted the heartbreaking task of lowering the flag at headquarters, it is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of Sheriff Benny N. Napoleon. Sheriff Napoleon was nationally recognized as an expert in law enforcement after more than 45 years of dedicated service. While he was tough on crime, he was beloved throughout the region for his compassion, faith and deep sense of community. He was a true leader in every sense of the work, known to announce to the families of new recruits that “if the families promised to take care of them at home, he’d take care of them on the job!
Sheriff Napoleon led the agency since he was appointed in 2009. Having won each election since, he was set to begin his new term in January. Sadly, he was diagnosed with Covid 19 in November and fought hard to recover. A prayer vigil led by his daughter, Tiffani Jackson, and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Corps drew widespread prayer and support from throughout the community and across the nation. Jackson says his family acknowledges the outpouring of support they’ve received, as they remember the man who everyone loved so dearly.
‘Remember his generosity, integrity and faithfulness,’ said Jackson. ‘Remember how kind he was to everyone he came in contact with and how much he loves his family.’
During this difficult time, we ask that you keep Sheriff Napoleon’s family, loved ones, friends, colleagues and the WCSO in your thoughts and prayers. We will inform you of more details as the information becomes available.”Wayne County Sheriff's Office
Saving a child's life no matter the risk was a way of life for Benny. Service to our community is Benny Napoleon's Legacy from the #Detroit Police Department to Wayne County Sheriff. We Thank You # BennyNapoleon R.I.P. My Brother R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/OMt9GoQJhi— samriddle (@samriddle) December 18, 2020