OGDEN — In a nation rocked by protests against police, this northern Utah city showed its solidarity for a fallen officer who died protecting the community he loved.
The citizens who lined the streets of Ogden Saturday in honor of officer Nate Lyday — who has been deemed a “son of Ogden” — heeded the heartfelt pleas at his memorial service by his mother, Nancy Lyday.
“In a world full of hate, be the light like Nathan is,” she said, adding: “I love you, son.”
Along the route of the procession to Lyday’s final resting place, people held flags, waved signs saying “thank you” and shed tears for a man many had never met, but a man who had paid the ultimate sacrifice.
At the memorial service, his mother, father, older brother and patrol partner were among those who paid tribute to the young officer, who was shot after responding to a 911 call from a woman who said that her husband was trying to kill her.
As a nod to the community outpouring of support with flowers and memorials delivered to the fallen officer’s car, and the blue lights that lit up the city, Lyday’s father, Andrew Lyday, said it shows that his son’s memory will be a force of unification.
“This community does in fact support Nate, and it reminds us that good will prevail,” he said.
There are 90,000 people in the community of Ogden, he stressed.
“One hundred may not like us,” said the father, who also serves in law enforcement. “But here are 89,900 who do.”
The fallen officer’s mother said plainly she didn’t know if she could get through her tribute, but she did.
“Words don’t seem sufficient to describe Nathan,” she said, but she included the adjectives of valor and honor.
“Nathan stood for all that is right.”
She described her fun-loving son, who even as a young boy demonstrated his compassion via a poem he wrote in the fifth grade on what would happen if he were in charge of the world.
Aside from doing away with broccoli, young Nate said he would do away with bullying, she said.
His mother went onto quote Bible scripture about self-sacrifice, with no greater love than a man laying down his life for others.
His older brother, Cody Lydall, said his brother’s big easygoing smile helped him de-escalate tense situations.
“He never had a bad thing to say about anyone. We have a community here that is about love and inclusion and Nate embodies that,” he said.
Ogden police officer Dylan Aeschlimann was Lyday’s patrol partner for more than year, the two growing close and sharing stories during the time they spent together. He was with Lyday the day he was shot and credits his partner with saving his life.
“On that day the world lost a hero and a man who loved this city. ... Every single one of us has gained a guardian angel in this.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also spoke at the service, which drew attendance from several dignitaries from around the state, including Reps. John Curtis and Ben McAdams. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was also there, along with mayors from multiple northern Utah cities and police officers from throughout Utah and other states. A pair of Elko Police Department officers solemnly sat in the stands at the ballpark, and multiple highway patrol troopers and corrections officers were there.
Jennie Taylor, the widow of Utah National Guard Maj. Brent Taylor who was killed in action while in Afghanistan, also attended.
Herbert described police work as a “noble calling,” with few professions that have more challenges. Officers like Lyday move toward danger in order to save someone else’s life, the governor added.
“Nathan’s end of watch came all too soon,” he said, and pointing out the family, he emphasized: “People across the state and beyond share a broken heart with you. ... Nathan is a good example of what we ought to be and how we live our lives.”
The north end of the ballpark featured a large flag held by multiple people, and the U.S. Honor Flag arrived in Utah to ceremoniously pay tribute to the fallen officer. Lyday became the first slain officer in Utah to be presented posthumously with the Utah Fallen Hero Flag, known as Hero 2.
Lyday had served only 15 months on the job when he lost his life protecting his hometown. His funeral and burial happened on the day that he and his wife, Ashley, would have celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary.
People lined the streets of Ogden for a rolling vigil Thursday night paying tribute to Lyday.
“We had the opportunity to see the outpouring of love for Nate and his family,” Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt said.
That procession ended at Lindquist Field, where Lyday’s patrol car remained for the funeral services. His image was projected on the clock tower at the field, and officers had held constant watch over his vehicle.
The procession following Saturday’s funeral services escorted Lyday’s body atop a fire truck for his final ride through the town he loved for internment at Lindquist’s Memorial Gardens of the Wasatch, where a graveside service was held.
Along the route, people again lined the streets to pay homage to Lyday. A caravan of tow trucks were parked alongside Harrison Boulevard, symbolizing the close relationship officers have with operators due to traffic accidents and stranded vehicles.
The graveside service featured full police honors, including an honor guard ceremony, a flyover and a final radio call. That call by a dispatcher is one of the most solemn and symbolic ceremonies at a fallen officer’s service, happening in the midst of eerie silence by mourners. A dispatcher reaches out to the officer through his radio-call code, which is his badge number.
“2F 1069. 2F1069. Weber. Officer Lyday, your passion and love for the job was like none other. ... You served with honor and will always be a true brother in blue. Though you are gone, you will ever never forgotten. Rest easy brother, we have the watch from here,“ the dispatcher’s voice began to break. “2F 1069 is 10-42 at 13:44.”
10-42 is a radio code that the officer is off-duty, or at end of watch.
Lyday is the ninth Ogden police officer to die in the line of duty.
He was killed on May 28 after confronting John Coleman on the front porch of his home at 365 Jackson Ave.
Lyday and another officer were talking to an uncooperative Coleman, who was inside the house behind a glass storm door. Both officers were calm and professional in body camera video, according to a report from the Weber County Attorney’s Office.
Coleman refused to open the storm door and eventually stepped back inside and shut the interior door. He then opened the interior door partway while carrying a rifle and immediately fired on Lyday through the glass storm door, the report says.
Lyday had a notebook and pen in his hands and had no opportunity to react when Coleman started firing. “Officer Lyday was struck in the head and killed instantly,” according to the summary. An agent with Adult Probation and Parole was also shot, but did not suffer life-threatening injuries.