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Community, police say farewell to slain officer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Photos of Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey flashed across screens before his funeral service at the Charleston Civic Center convention hall Sunday afternoon.

In one picture, the state trooper, decked out in camouflage and a bright orange vest, posed with a freshly killed deer. In another, he held his young son, Wyatt. Another photo was taken just before Bailey was baptized in a creek.

Police officers, community members, friends and family of the fallen trooper came out in droves to say their last goodbyes to Bailey, who was shot to death Tuesday evening during a traffic stop at the Wallback park and ride lot near the Clay-Roane county line.

Another officer, Trooper Eric Workman, was wounded and later died of his injuries. Police say Luke Baber, 22, of Oak Hill, also shot Roane County Sheriff's Deputy John Westfall and a local wrecker truck driver before being killed in a shootout.

Bailey's brother, Dr. Justin Bailey, said his brother loved his family and his job.

When he graduated the State Police Academy, Bailey was at first disappointed to be assigned to the Clay County detachment, Justin Bailey said. Bailey wanted to be closer to his parents. But he soon fell in love with the area where he served, his brother said.

"He said, 'I'll never leave Clay County,'" Justin Bailey said. "'These are my kind of people.'"

Both brothers chose to be in service professions, said Justin Bailey, a physician.

"When I go to work, I know someone's not going to try to take my life," he said. "Marshall didn't have that luxury and he knew that. Every day he embraced it because he loved being a state trooper."

Bailey said his brother was a quiet and unassuming man who would not have wanted a big funeral. But the outpouring of support his family has received in the wake of his death is a testament to what kind of person the officer was, Justin Bailey said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called Bailey and Workman heroes. For the past 17 years, Bailey sacrificed his own safety to protect others, the governor said.

"For 17 years he lived with the knowledge that any call or stop could be the one that went wrong," Tomblin said. "Why did he do it? All I can say is that police work is more than a job, it's a calling."

Law enforcement officers from all over West Virginia and from as far away as Las Vegas and Alaska attended the funeral and joined in the procession to the graveyard in Poca.

Oak Hill native Jerry Staton and his wife Debbie Staton, now of Austin, Texas, were visiting the state this weekend for Jerry's 45th high school reunion. Jerry Staton is retired after 25 years with the Austin Police Department and they "couldn't not come," Debbie Staton said.

Since his retirement, Jerry and Debbie run a police training business, Affordable Realistic Tactical Training. Staton had trained some of the officers that trained Bailey and Workman on TASER use and safety, Jerry Staton said.

In the wake of the shootings, questions have arisen about the way Baber was handled following the arrest. The officers patted him down but missed a gun hidden in the groin area of the man's pants. His arms were handcuffed in front of him and he was able to access his gun. State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous told the Gazette earlier the agency might re-examine its arrest procedures following the shooting deaths.

A friend of Bailey's said it was common for Bailey to handcuff people with their hands in front of them.

"He never put their hands behind their back unless they gave him a reason to," said Chris Holcomb, 23, of Clay County.

Jerry Staton said the fault shouldn't lie with the officers.

"It was the evilness of the person who took them out, not the lackadaisical attitude of the officers," Staton said. He added that ultimately the country's drug problem is at fault, "and that's society's problem, not a police problem."

Baber had a prescription drug abuse problem, a family member told the Gazette earlier.

Staton said while there is a perception that West Virginia is economically depressed, the police trainers he's worked with in the state are some of the finest he's known.

"They may not have the resources but they certainly have the heart and soul," Staton said.

Holcomb's mother, Grithel Holcomb, also of Clay County, was in Bailey's wedding, she said.

"My son is a boxer and he trained with [Bailey]," she said. "[He] gave him pointers and helped him out whenever he could."

Bailey frequently came to Clay County sports events and only missed them when he was on a call and couldn't be there, she said.

"His brother said [Bailey] loved Clay County," Holcomb said. "He did. He was a Clay Countian no matter where he was born."

Grithel Holcomb said she saw Bailey and Workman just a few hours from the incident Tuesday evening. He was laughing, just like he typically was, she said.

"If you had a problem you could go talk to [Bailey]," Chris Holcomb said. "He wouldn't lie to you; he'd tell you the truth no matter what you asked him....

"He's going to be missed by a lot of people," Chris Holcomb said. "He had a lot of friends."

Visitation for Workman is scheduled for 1 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Clay County High School. A service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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