BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s Peyton Totty’s smile that speaks volumes, even though she can not.
At only 19 months old the young girl has faced an unthinkable tragedy she may not yet comprehend. Her father, Shane Totty, a beloved officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department, was killed in the line of duty.
A year before his death Cpl. Shane Totty was shot while protecting a family. Even after being shot in the face, Cpl. Totty was eager to return to the force to protect and serve his community. He did not let adversity stop him.
Then, a traffic crash claimed his life.
He died honoring the badge while escorting a group of family and friends as they said their final goodbyes to a loved one.
Though Shane Totty may no longer be here to wrap his little girl in his arms and rock her, a horse created with the same respect for the badge will continue to bring a smile to his young daughter’s face.
The horse was crafted by Shannon and Andrea Parson through their nonprofit Remembering Officers Children. The group designed their first horse in 2004 but discontinued making them until 2018 when a hometown friend was killed in the line of duty. In 2018 alone, the two built and delivered 12 horses throughout the Southeastern United States.
Sunday, June 23, the two drove eight hours from Georgia to deliver Peyton’s custom crafted horse.
It was joy at first sight.
Adorned with a blue, white, and black mane and a thin blue line painted on a carving of the American Flag, the horse sat in front of a memorial at the Baton Rouge Police Department’s headquarters Sunday. On its seat is Shane Totty’s signature, recreated from a document used to sign Peyton into daycare the morning of his death.
Under its mane is a heart used to signal a message from Totty’s finance, Catty Hope, who says she sees hearts everywhere since his death.
“We get a huge blessing from each horse and from meeting every family that we can,” said Shannon Parson.
It’s a blessing that’s being paid forward.
Surrounded by the same people who loved her father, and the same people who will continue to love and support her in his memory, Payton joyfully rode the horse.
She can’t yet tell everyone how much the horse means to her, but Payton Totty’s smile while riding the horse in front of BRPD headquarters, watched over by the officers who honor the badge as her father did, says it all.