An Oklahoma police chief was invited to speak at the funeral of a 17-year-old girl who died in a shootout with four of his officers – where he stressed the importance of “forgiveness” and embraced the victim’s father.
Johnny Teehee, the top cop in Muskogee, addressed mourners Wednesday in Blair, Nebraska, at the funeral of Farrah Rauch, who was fatally shot on Feb. 28 during an attempted carjacking of a pickup truck, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Rauch was struck as she fired at officers while running away from the scene.
Rauch’s boyfriend, Joseph Dugan, also 17, ran from the scene and fatally shot himself, cops said.
Four Muskogee officers were put on paid administrative leave after the deadly incident – all of whom were also invited to Rauch’s service but declined to attend.
“They just didn’t think they were ready to do this,” Teehee said, adding that the cops were touched by the invitation, including one who had a message to share.
“They said, ‘Chief, I’m not going to be able to do this, but will you let the family know that I love them, and we hold no ill will?”
Once at the lectern, just feet away from Rauch’s casket, Teehee emphasized a message of forgiveness and understanding.
“What is the message that we can take from this young life, that we can carry on from this point on and revert back to that?” Teehee asked. “To me, that message is forgiveness.”
The police chief then hugged Rauch’s father and sat down, the newspaper reported.
Steven Rauch said Tuesday that he invited the officers to his daughter’s funeral because they were “doing their jobs, they’re in pain and they had no idea that they were even teens,” according to the report.
Rauch said his daughter was in a “dark cycle” when she was killed in the police shootout.
“She always did everything to the fullest, and unfortunately she took to the dark side and she got caught up in that,” Rauch said Wednesday.
Teehee, meanwhile, said he felt compelled to be at the service, adding that it was the first invite to a victim’s funeral in his 35-year law enforcement career.
“To reach out and invite [us] to the service and say, ‘We forgive you’ … When’s he’s willing to do that, then I have an obligation to be here and speak,” Teehee said.