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Memorial service, procession held for fallen SLO police detective Luca Benedetti


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Thousands of community members gathered at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center Thursday morning to attend the memorial service for slain San Luis Obispo Police Detective Luca Benedetti and participate in the first-responder procession route in memory of him.

"We are here to celebrate the life of Detective Benedetti," said new San Luis Obispo Police Chief Rick Scott. "The life of a hero. We're here to celebrate the rich and full legacy that that he has left behind and the gift that he has left for his family and the inspiration to all that knew him."

Scott noted he has only been on the job for two weeks and didn't know Benedetti, but described him as "an amazing example of the best we have to offer."

At the end of his eulogy, Scott presented Benedetti's wife Grace with her husband's badge.

This badge is the symbol of the covenant of the trust we have with our community and with each person that we serve. This badge is heavy, with the weight, with the full weight, of our community's expectations to be treated with dignity and respect," said Scott. "It is my privilege to tell you and everyone here that this badge shines bright today, not because we lost a hero, but because of the gift of the legacy that he leaves behind."

San Luis Obispo Police Sergeant Caleb Kemp later spoke and described the Cal Poly and Hancock graduate has an exemplary police officer.

"Luca's many talents have had an impact on those around him," said Kemp. "He was the best and he proved it over and over again. There was a calmness, a smoothness, a soundess to everything he did."

However, Kemp, like the other speakers, focused more on Benedetti's personal side, describing the man away from the job.

"You need to know Luca is not just a tragic story, not an incredible officer, but an incredible man," said Kemp. "A man who loved his family, his wife, his two daughters and his two dogs. Lucas was very proud of his Italian roots, not only did he wear a gold necklace of the country around his neck, but he also had the shape of the country tattooed right upon his arm."

Michael Townsend, a close friend of Benedetti spoke of a person who was inquisitive and always looking to learn new skills and talents.

He talked about taking him camping for the first time and how Benedetti was a proficient gardener.

Townsend also said Benedetti was a true friend and is someone he cannot simply say goodbye to.

"Under this tough exterior, there was warm and compassion that was unmatched," said Townsend. "He was stubborn, yet, but he listened. He really listened when you talk to him and his stance often softened when differing ideas had validity. He was genuine and generous with people in time of need. He truly lived to serve his community."

Atascadero Police Chaplain Rick Comstock, who admitted he had officiated Benedetti's wedding, described closed conversations the two of them had while Benedetti worked for the Atascadero Police Department.

"He was genuine, hardworking, humble, kind, talented, intelligent, witty and funny," said Comstock. "He was an encourager who paid attention to other people and knew how to make everyone he met feel special."

He also said what mattered to him most was his family.

"We all know that Luca was an accomplished person who excelled in a variety of areas, but of all the things he did, he did daddy best," said Comstock.

Benedetti's cousin Claudio Rivieccio spoke last on behalf of the family.

He thanked everyone in attendance for showing their support to the family and added that not only does San Luis Obispo mourn the loss, but so too does the Bay Area, where Benedetti grew up, as well as the two small hometowns of his parents in Italy.

"All we can do now is remember all the good that he did in his short lifetime," said Rivieccio. "It's not his date of birth of his death that are most significant, but in fact, the dash between those dates that manifest all Luca has accomplished and all those memories will live on. Each of us who knew him, he made us all proud. Our beloved Luca will never be forgotten and will live in our hearts forever.

The memorial service began at 10 a.m. and closed out around 11:30 a.m. with a slideshow of Benedetti's life, showing pictures from his youth, times with his wife and his two daughters.

First responders then moved outside to begin the motorcade around 12 p.m. Those who were not able to attend in person may rewatch the memorial and part of the procession at keyt.com here.

The procession departed from the Performing Arts Center on Grand Avenue to Monterey Street, then turned left on Monterey to Highway 101 North. The procession remained on Highway 101 North until it reached the Paso Robles Cemetery where Benedetti will be laid to rest.

Drivers were advised to avoid the area and take alternate routes during the procession.

The public was invited to watch the procession from legal and safe locations, or online.

First responders from neighboring agencies helped patrol the City of San Luis Obispo while Det. Benedetti’s colleagues attended the memorial events.

Detective Benedetti was shot and killed on Monday, May 10, while serving a search warrant at an apartment complex in the City of San Luis Obispo.

Benedetti and a second officer who was wounded during that Monday's events were identified during a press conference the following day. Benedetti was a 12-year law enforcement veteran. He was 37 and left behind a wife and two young daughters.

Through Friday, May 21, City officials are encouraging community members to show their support for Det. Benedetti’s family, co-workers and the many others affected by last Monday’s tragic events by visiting several outdoor memorial sites. These sites have been established at the San Luis Obispo Police Department on 1042 Walnut Street, Fire Station #1 at 2160 Santa Barbara Ave, and on the lawn of City Hall at 990 Palm St.

Community members are encouraged to visit the sites and plant an American flag in the grass in remembrance or simply observe a moment of silence. Cards and other messages left at the memorial sites will be delivered to Det. Benedetti’s family.

Earlier this week, the San Luis Obispo Police Department Police Officer Association and the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT team set up a GoFundMe page for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to the Benedetti family going forward in their time of need. As of Wednesday afternoon, it had already raised more than $590,000. To send a donation, click here.

Article Topic Follows: Community
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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.

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