Robert Parker Sr., whose suicide last week sent shock waves through one of the nation’s largest law enforcement communities, will be eulogized during an elaborate ceremony open to the public at Florida International University on Saturday.
His viewing will take place on Friday evening at New Birth Baptist Church in North Miami-Dade.
“Director Parker leaves behind an extraordinary legacy filled with love and devotion to family, friends and all who came to know him,” Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson said in a statement.
Parker, who retired in 2009 after a 33-year career that saw him rise through the department’s civil service ranks, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on July 22. He was 62.
His body was found by his sons and a neighbor under some trees and next to a canal behind a home across the street from the Parker family’s North Miami-Dade residence. His gun lay by his side.
He is survived by his wife, Veronica, sons Robert Jr. and Kyron, and daughter Kalika Parker. All but Kyron work for Miami-Dade police.
Parker will be memorialized at FIU Arena in colorful procession usually reserved for fallen officers. The last Miami-Dade police department ceremony there was for Miami-Dade officer Jose Somahano in 2007. He died in a hail of bullets at a South Miami-Dade apartment complex fired from a semiautomatic weapon held by Shawn Labeet.
Labeet was later captured and killed by police at a Pembroke Pines apartment complex. During the shootout with Somahano, three other Miami-Dade officers were also struck by semiautomatic gunfire. They survived.
Parker, police director at the time, eulogized his fallen officer, calling it “a day of tremendous pain and a day of tremendous tragedy.”
Details of the FIU ceremony weren’t available Wednesday. Typically, public events for fallen officers include the county’s Honor Guard, videos, eulogies and even bagpipes. The family, which has stayed quiet since Parker’s death, is believed to be working on some type of military affair in honor of Parker’s Army service.
Parker joined the county’s police department in 1976 after a three-year stint in the Army. His career saw him serve districts from the county’s south to north end. At one point, he oversaw economic crimes.
He was also active outside the department. Earlier this year, he was tapped to help a team review police procedures and practices after the Baltimore riots in April.
Parker was also a long-time mentor and leader in the 5000 Role Models of Excellence project, which targets at-risk minority teens and young men.
A viewing is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday at New Birth Baptist Church, 2300 NW 135th St. Saturday’s funeral will begin at 10 a.m. at the Pharmed Arena on the campus of Florida International University, 1180 SW 113th Ave.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be directed to the Robert Parker Foundation at www.GOFUNDME.com/ROBERTPARKER, created to promote education and scholarship opportunities. By Wednesday afternoon, the site had raised just over $3,200. Its goal is $1 million.