Friday, March 12, 2010

In Honor Of Sgt. Howard J. Plouff


I try to keep my personal life out of the blog. I mean, you know about my hysteria and depression when it comes to querying, you know that my Small One turns into a Monster Baby at the drop of a hat, but you wouldn't know about this, and I wasn't going to tell you about this, but I didn't sleep last night, thinking you need to hear about this.

My cousin, Sgt. Howard Plouff was a cop in Winston-Salem North Carolina for almost 18years. He was a good man, a true friend, a loving husband, a fantastic father. He was one of those guys that everyone loved. He was always in a good mood, always ready to tell a joke, always ready to play a little hoop. He was funny and light hearted, mischievous and hard working. Howard was a true gentleman.

In February of 2007, Howard responded to a call, gunshots fired, riot ensuing at a nightclub on the outskirts of Winston. 400 people were in the middle of a melee when Howard and his partner pulled into the parking lot. People were everywhere, chairs and tables were flying, women were screaming, there was blood, lots of blood.

Someone pulled out a gun and began firing. Then another. Then another. Howard was hit in the face and went down in the parking lot before he even had a chance to look around. His partner called for the ambulance and it raced 100 miles an hour down the highway to the hospital. He died at 4:30 that morning after the doctors tried everything they could to save him.

His funeral was held in his family's church. I wasn't living here at the time and flew down with my brothers for it. There were over 3,000 police officers attending. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. I have never been so touched by the people that showed up. Everybody knew Howard. Everybody loved Howard. His wife and daughters were devastated yet held up under the weight of the responsibility of burying their husband and father. I don't know how they did it, I could never have done what she did. (Joyce, his wife spoke to almost 10,000 people at the wake.

The police found the man who fired the bullet that killed Howard. I don't know how they did it, but the detectives matched the bullet to a gun, and matched the gun to a man. A young man, 22 years old, studying at one of the colleges. He's been in jail since March of 2007.

The trial started last week. Joyce and Howard's mother, my aunt, sat in the courtroom watched the jury picked, listened to the testimony from the police and the witnesses. They both left the courtroom when the coroner was put on the stand. I don't blame them. The young man who killed my cousin, whether by accident or design, didn't take the stand. He presented no witnesses. Yesterday, the jury returned a verdict of 2nd degree murder. Today the judge will give his sentence. We all know that boy will sit in jail for most of his life, if not the rest of it.

It doesn't matter. After three long years, this devastating event that shattered a family is finally coming to a close. The man who killed my cousin is finally going to see what his actions of that night brought him. Justice will be served. Unfortunately that isn't justice. Howard isn't here.

23 comments:

Lola Sharp said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

My thoughts are with his family today.

I hate that tragedies like this keep happening.
Are we helpless to prevent these devastating events?
I wish I had solutions. I so wish someone, anyone had the answers.

Hugs and Love,
Lola

Piedmont Writer said...

Thank you Lola.

roxy said...

As I read about this tragedy, I cried. I could feel your love for your cousin and the anguish your family is going through. I am so sorry, Anne. I don't know what your thoughts are on theology, but when I have lost loved ones, I take comfort in my belief that I'll see them again someday. I believe life is temporary and that death isn't the end of existence. God bless you and your family. I'll be thinking of you.

Piedmont Writer said...

Roxy -- Thank you. Yes, I believe that I will see him again. The thing that really hurts, is that I saw him a week before he died. Small One and I had come down to NC to visit my parents and Howard and his family came over for dinner. I hadn't seen them since their wedding in New York 17 years before. We had a lovely time and promised to get together when I moved down here later that summer. 10 days later he was killed. God had allowed me the visit, of which I was grateful, but to what end. I only miss him more.

She Writes said...

Ugh, you have me in tears. 3000 officers in attendance--Amazing! I am sorry for the loss of this man to all of those who loved him...

Lady Glamis said...

Oh my gosh, this is so sad. I'm so sorry this happened - to both the victim and the murderer. It's truly a tragedy. My heart hurts for you today. I know you will see him again, though. Still doesn't make the time here easier. *HUGS*

Kristen said...

I am so sorry for your loss. This post brought tears to my eyes. You and your family are in my thoughts!

lotusgirl said...

Tears. Anne. Tears. The police are so amazing about honoring their own. I'll be thinking about you. It will be nice for your family to have closure.

Piedmont Writer said...

Amy -- Thank you. The service was beautiful and so very sad. I'm glad it's finally over.

Michelle -- It is a tragedy of the highest proportions. Thanks.

Kristen -- I apologize for making you cry. It wasn't my intention. I just wanted everyone to know Howard.

Lois -- Yes, finally. Not that we'll ever forget but now we don't have to have that constant anticipation for this day. It's over and done with.

sarahjayne smythe said...

Anne, I am so sorry for your loss and for the pain that loss has brought to your family. No one should have to live through something like that. I'm glad you and your cousin's family got some sense of closure. Hopefully it will help the healing process you all must make your way through.

Piedmont Writer said...

Sarah Jayne -- That's been the hardest part in all this, it wouldn't end until today, until we knew he'd been convicted of his crime. Yes, hopefully now, with the closure we can get on with the healing process. Thank you for your kind words.

Piedmont Writer said...

Thank you everyone for your very kind words. This had actually been one of the reasons I haven't been able to stay focused on my writing. Not that I'm using this as any kind of excuse, but my mind has been in the courtroom with my aunt and Joyce and the girls. Hopefully now, they'll be able to get some kind of closure and start to live the rest of their lives. Or try to.

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

If there is anything good to have come out of this tragic situation, it is that, Howard, now lives on because of you. He is no longer ink on a page. We have a face and a history to remind us all of his dedication as a police officer and his commitment as a family man.

Truly sorry for your loss.

Donna Hosie said...

I think Wendy (above) summed it up perfectly. A great man lives on because there are people who have read this story.

My deepest sympathies to the whole family.

Piedmont Writer said...

Wendy -- Thanks so much for those beautiful words. That's exactly what I wanted for this blog post today. Howard just isn't my cousin, now you know how good he was too.

Donna -- Thank you very much.

Shelley Sly said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss. This is one of the most moving posts I've ever read. I know what that kind of grief feels like, and I'd never wish anyone to experience it.

I lost someone very close to me, and the person responsible for the accident didn't get sentenced to a long enough incarceration, in my opinion. I know what you mean, that there is no justice when the person you love is gone. But I agree with the others that Howard lives on. I believe you that he was as wonderful of a person as you say, and he is far from forgotten. You help him to live on.

Susan Fields said...

Howard sounds like a wonderful man...you've paid him a wonderful tribute. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

Donna Hole said...

Sounds like he was a great guy; they type of cop you teach your children to trust. I hope this brings some closure for you and your family.

Piedmont Writer said...

Shelley, Susan, Donna -- Howard really was the truest and best of men. Thank you for your kind words.

Kristi Faith said...

What a great tribute to him! I'm keeping you in my prayers as you deal with the trial part of this tragedy.

Piedmont Writer said...

Thank you Kristi.

Haddock said...

Touching.
The last line sums it all up.
Unfortunately that isn't justice. Howard isn't here.

Y.F.N. Palindrome aka Hannah said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.