Fallen Officer Matthew Gerald's wife: 'I'm proud of my husband'
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - "It's something that I hope and pray no one ever has to go through," said Dechia Gerald, Officer Matthew Gerald's wife.
What should have been just another Sunday of Gerald's husband going to work, turned into one of the darkest days for Baton Rouge. Just like every day, Officer Matthew Gerald, 41, woke up at 3:45 a.m. and was at Precinct 3 at 5:45 a.m. roll call.
"At 8:30 in the morning, he would always text -- 'Hey are you up? What you doing today? What are your plans?' That kind of stuff. Well I didn't have a text from him," said Gerald.
She said first thing in the morning, she turned on the TV.
"There it is unfolding before me," said Gerald.
She shared WAFB's live coverage to her Facebook page, asking everyone to pray, saying her husband was out there.
"I got sick to my stomach. I got a gut feeling something wasn't right," said Gerald.
After texting other officers' wives and knowing their husbands were safe, she still had nothing from her own. Then, there it was.
"We got a knock at the door. I didn't want to get up to answer it because I knew," said Gerald.
Officer Gerald was gone. The couple has a three year old daughter.
"I'm crying and she's grabbing my face, 'Momma stop crying, momma stop crying,' and then at one moment she yelled at me, she said, 'Mommy, I wanna call my daddy right now. I wanna call my daddy right now.' I had to compose myself. I had to look at her in her little sweet blue eyes like her dad, and I had to say, 'Baby, your daddy is with Jesus now'," said Gerald.
Officer Gerald had only been with the Baton Rouge Police Department one year, having graduated from the academy this past March. He had just been released from the field training program to ride by himself less than two weeks before he was killed.
"It was like a natural glow when he had his uniform on. He was prideful. You can tell he was excited about being in the police department. He was giving back to his community. He was being a servant once again," said Gerald.
Gerald served honorably in the U.S. Marines for four years and achieved the rank of corporal.
He then joined the Army as a specialist and worked with Blackhawk helicopters. In his time of service, he did three tours in Iraq and earned numerous awards, including four air medals, three good conduct medals, and many others.
"It was an amazing part of his life. He fought for his country. He was patriotic. He bled red, white, and blue no doubt about it," said Gerald.
In fact, just two days after Alton Sterling's death when tensions were high, Officer Gerald stopped to help a woman named Diane Spears when her car broke down in the middle of traffic.
"That was a good day and he came home and he was smiling ear to ear," said Gerald.
Dechia remembers her husband telling her about the picture he took with them and that they wanted to post it to Facebook.
"That is who the everyday Matt Gerald was," said Gerald. "That one lady summed up who my husband is."
In the days that followed, President Barack Obama called Dechia, thanking her husband for his service.
"It was unusual like really, is the president really calling me? Am I really talking to this man?" asked Gerald.
Mrs. Gerald said her husband was hurt and angry over America being torn. Though he's gone, she said his death is slowly but surely beginning what he wanted.
"America's finally getting peace back together, so even though my husband's not here, he's still working. He's still serving his country. He's doing proud. I could get angry, but I'm not because my husband wouldn't want me to. His country he loved so much and fought so much for is finally beginning to be the country he knew then, rather than what it had become," said Gerald.
Visitation for Officer Gerald is Thursday, July 21 from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Resthaven Gardens of Memory & Funeral Home and then again on Friday, July 22 from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. at Healing Place Church. Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m.
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