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Hundreds mourn NYPD officer killed in LI crash

Menzies was buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in

Menzies was buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens. (Nov. 20, 2010) Credit: Uli Seit

Hundreds of New York City police officers paid solemn tribute to one of their own, Andre Menzies, at his funeral Saturday at Tabernacle of Prayer in Jamaica, Queens.

Nearly 200 officers in dress blues filed into the expansive church. Two by two, they processed down the aisle, each pair stopping to stand at attention before Menzies' open coffin and raise their white-gloved hands in salute. With military precision, they turned left and walked to their seats.

The officers were joined by about 300 other mourners who celebrated Menzies' life.

Menzies was a devoted family man, many said. He was husband to Natacha and father of five children. He was also the eldest of four siblings and a son who made his parents, Robert and Sheila, proud.

Menzies - "Dre" to family and friends - was remembered as a man of great religious faith and a role model to many. A police officer since 2001, Menzies loved his job, his family said.

"I just want people to know he was a determined man. He succeeded in anything he tried to do," his brother, Noah, said after the funeral. "He just didn't get a chance to live his full life."

Menzies, 35, was killed just after midnight Sunday as he drove home to North Babylon from Queens. Police said his Honda was struck head-on by a van driven by an alleged drunken driver, Michael Bowen, 50, of Brooklyn, traveling the wrong way on the Northern State Parkway. He has pleaded not guilty to driving while intoxicated.

Menzies "was family-oriented," said Sgt. Marshall Winston, who said he worked with Menzies for several months in a housing command in Brooklyn. Menzies was with a Flushing housing command when he died. "The best thing I can say about him: He loved his kids," Winston said.

The funeral was filled with music, reflections and preaching from representatives of the Tabernacle, as well as Grace Community Christian Ministries in Amityville, where Menzies and his wife worshiped.

Messages from Menzies' family were read during the service.

"My dad was everything to me," said the statement from his eldest child, Andrea, 15. She said he encouraged his children to strive for excellence. "I promised Dad I would do my best in school, with Jesus by my side."

Menzies' other children are Melisa, 14, Tiffany, 12, Joshua, 9, and Victorria Sky, 7.

In her statement, Natacha Menzies said her husband "was beautiful inside and out. I will be forever grateful that God allowed me to borrow you. . . . You will always be with me."

Mourners streaming out of the church met two columns of officers that stretched for a full city block. The officers saluted as a bugler played "Taps" while other officers carried Menzies' coffin. Then the hearse led the procession to Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens as bagpipers played "Going Home."

Menzies' grave is atop a hill, surrounded by trees.

As the mourners gathered, hushed conversation was broken by the cries of a child. After the coffin was lowered into the earth, several people, some with tears streaming down their cheeks, took turns shoveling dirt into the grave. Each left behind a flower.

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