For Fort Wayne Police Officer David Tinsley, it likely started as a typical Monday night shift.
But everything changed at about 11:15 p.m. on the night of Sept. 10, 2018. That’s when he began chasing a stolen pickup in his patrol car. When the suspect got out of the truck and ran, Tinsley pursued him on foot and suffered a fatal heart attack after the chase.
On Thursday, about 40 folks gathered in the 4500 block of South Wayne Avenue — near its intersection with Pasadena Drive — to help dedicate a memorial to Tinsley.
Tinsley served 16 years as a Fort Wayne Police Department officer, after moving to the city from southern Indiana and attending Concordia Theological Seminary for a time. He joined the force at age 34, after deciding he wanted to use his criminal justice degree.
Tinsley spent much of his time at work patrolling the southeast areas of the city, near his family’s home. He often told his wife, Kristina, that his time at the seminary helped him relate to the folks he came in contact with while patrolling those rougher areas of town.
The memorial will help keep memories such as those alive, noted FWPD Capt. Mitchell McKinney while addressing the crowd at the memorial’s dedication. “It’s like losing a family member when someone falls like this,” he said. “It really feels terrible.”
City officials noted in a press release that the memorial was funded partially from a Fort Wayne 2020 Neighborhood Improvement Grant, as well as money from Berry’s Welding, and the Fraternal Order of Police Indiana Wayne Lodge 14 Leaving a Legacy Foundation LLC. Thrivent Financial also donated $250 toward landscaping for the spot, and the city paid for the bench. Volunteers from the neighborhood helped pay for supplies and gave a hand in building the memorial. Total cost for the project came to slightly more than $7,000.
On the night of his death, Tinsley — who was 50 at the time — and other FWPD officers chased a man who had stolen a pickup from a construction business. Tinsley helped catch the man in the woods after he drove off Fairfield Avenue near the Candelite apartment complex, 522 Pinegrove Lane.
Tinsley collapsed on the way back to his patrol car. The suspect in the case was not charged in Tinsley’s death, but was charged with burglary and resisting arrest.
In Tinsley’s memory, the memorial features a newly-planted tree with solar-powered lights to illuminate the spot at night, a red metal bench, and a welded memorial stand, topped with a large FWPD badge with Tinsley’s name and the inscription “E.O.W. 9-11-2018.” E.O.W. stands for End of Watch.
Sally Edington, a representative of the Fairmont Neighborhood Association — where the memorial is located — said creating the memorial was not just a way to honor the memory of Tinsley, but to remember his dedication to their community.
“We want to thank Kris Tinsley and the Tinsley family for their help along the way in planning this memorial and the dedication today,” Edington read from a prepared statement during the dedication,
“But most of all, we want to thank them for being our neighbors, for the years we felt protected knowing we had a police officer in the heart of our neighborhood, for the worry they felt each time he left the house and our neighborhood to report for a shift and for suffering through the greatest loss of all in the line of service.”