Hundreds mourn, celebrate life of RPD Officer Ortiz at public memorial service

Ortiz Memorial stage.jpg
Members of the law enforcement community and hundreds of people from the Rochester area are expected to fill a memorial service for Rochester Police Officer Manuel "Manny" Ortiz, who died last weekend. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Members of the law enforcement community and hundreds of people from the Rochester area packed into an emotional memorial service for a Rochester Police officer who died last weekend.

Officer Manuel "Manny" Ortiz died Saturday after investigators said he accidentally shot himself while driving in Penfield.

The service was held at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center and began with the Rochester Police Department Honor Guard posting the colors. Shortly afterward, the Gates Keystone Club Pipes and Drums began the service with music. Eulogies were given by eight people, including Mayor Lovely Warren, Chief La'Ron Singletary, and Solangee McNeal, Ortiz's daughter.

Singletary described Ortiz as a "cop's cop," and "people's cop," who "left a lasting impact on the city and beyond."

"Manny lived a life full of love, service and respect for his family and fellow citizens," said Singletary.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said Ortiz's smile was always a bright spot around City Hall, particularly when she'd see him in City Council Chambers.

"Seeing Manny's smile as I entered chambers - and he was always smiling - always lifted my spirits," said Warren.

Warren added that Ortiz defined what it meant to be a community police officer. "He was the very personification of community policing," Warren said. "He had 22 years of service – enough seniority to pick his shifts - but he chose to work nights and weekends because that’s when the community gathered.”

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Several of Manny's colleagues spoke at the memorial service.

Sgt. Henry Rivera went through the academy with Ortiz. He said the two had become like brothers to each other.

"We had to fill out paperwork of who we wanted to represent us, should anything happen to us, he chose me," said an extremely emotional Rivera. "I never in a million years would I imagine myself standing here, talking about my brother Manny."

Sgt. Sammie Drayton, Jr. was also close with Ortiz. He joked about nicknames Ortiz had for Drayton, and many others.

"One that everybody knows is Papa, that was your name," said Drayton. "I can't think of a time Manny ever called me by my name, it was always, 'OK, papa.'"

Another friend of Ortiz, Ray Mayoliz, spoke throughout the ceremony. Mayoliz is the Manager of Youth Outreach and Violence Prevention for the City of Rochester.

During the ceremony, he recalled his last conversation with Ortiz as the two were visiting injured RPD Officer Denny Wright the night of Oct. 4.

"'He said to me, 'Life is too short.' He said, 'Life was too short,' not knowing that just over a month later, he's no longer with us."

PHOTOS: Memorial service for RPD Officer Manny Ortiz

Friends and family joined together Thursday night at Jefferson High School - Ortiz's alma mater - to share stories, comfort each other, and remember one of the city's finest. Balloons were released in his memory.

Ortiz was 52. He is survived by his fiancee and three children. Warren presented his family with a key to the city.

In lieu of flowers, the Rochester Police Department has set up a scholarship fund for Ortiz's children. Anyone wishing to donate can do so.

Singletary also announced a new award named after Ortiz. It will be given each year to an officer recognized for their work in community policing.