By Alexis Stevens
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
CAIRO, Ga. — Master Patrol Officer Clarence “CJ” Williams, who served the small, South Georgia town of Cairo, died Saturday while chasing a suspect, becoming the state’s first officer to die in the line of duty this year, according to the police department.
“He joined the department in 2020 and quickly gained the respect and love of all that met him,” the Cairo police department said in a social media post.
A Cairo native, Williams was assisting a Grady County sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop when the subject ran away, according to media reports. Williams and the deputy were running after the suspect when he collapsed. He was 23.
“He was a model student,” Kermit Gilliard Jr., Williams’ former principal, posted on the police department’s Facebook page. “Our community has lost a great young man. Prayers for his sweet mother, family, and our community.”
The Officer Down Memorial page, which tracks law enforcement deaths, named Williams the first officer in both the state and the nation to die in the line of duty.
For Cairo, located near the Georgia- Florida line and about 60 miles west of Valdosta, it was the second time an officer died in the line of duty. The other happened in 1907, when City Marshal Eugene Cargell was shot to death, according to the Officer Down website.
In 2022, five Georgia law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, including two Cobb County deputies who were shot. Three others were killed in car crashes. Five other officers died from medical issues, according to the Officer Down website.
Funeral plans for Williams were pending late Monday.
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