Police chief, witnesses and community reflect on fallen LMPD Officer Zach Cottongim’s life

A few days before Christmas, Louisville Metro Police Officer Zach Cottongim’s LMPD family and the community trying their best to comfort his loved ones after he
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 5:15 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - What was supposed to be a regular day at work on a rainy Saturday ends with a whole community, broken, mourning and in shock.

A few days before Christmas, Louisville Metro Police Officer Zach Cottongim’s LMPD family and the community trying their best to comfort his loved ones after he was killed in the line of duty.

LMPD and the community described Cottingim as bright and talented with so much ahead of him.

Cottongim was hit by a vehicle on I-64 just after 10 a.m. on Saturday while he was investigating an abandoned vehicle near Mellwood Avenue. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery for his injuries but later died.

The update from Chief of Police Erika Shields came in around 10 p.m. Saturday.

“You all have the commonality that you go to work and you know there’s potential that you won’t come home,” Shields said.

WAVE 3 News heard the chilling details from another driver who saw it all happen.

“A truck came up on the right side lane of (I-64), it looked like he lost control, and the back of his truck swerved around and he went right into the police car and the police officer,” one woman, who wished not to be identified, said.

The woman said other drivers started giving compressions to Cottongim, trying to save him while calling 911.

Shields said doctors at University Hospital worked on him for more than 10 hours. It wasn’t enough for the husband and father of two young children.

Cottongim wore his LMPD badge for 7 years following in his father’s footsteps and died on Saturday night.

On Sunday, there was a call for the community to honor Cottongim during a procession to Highland Funeral Home.

Keri Ranney didn’t know the officer but connected to his heart.

“He’s still a brother in arms,” Ranney said.

Lining LaGrange Road to the funeral home on Taylorsville Road, each friend, family and stranger remembered the only thing that’s certain with each day.

“There are only so many tomorrows,” Ranney said. “Because tomorrow’s not promised.”

Final farewells for the hero begin Tuesday morning.

The Louisville Metro Police Foundation has set up a fund for Officer Zach Cottongim. His two sons are four and 10 months old. His wife also worked with LMPD.

As of Monday morning, nearly $60,000 was donated to the fund.

Service arrangements to honor fallen LMPD Officer Zach Cottongim have also been released. There will be a procession on Tuesday to escort Officer Cottongim’s body from Highland Funeral Home.

The procession starts at 9 a.m. on Taylorsville Road and ends at Southeast Christian Church on Blankenbaker Parkway.

Visitation will be from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the church, followed by a memorial service for current and retired officers.

His funeral will be held at Southeast Christian Church on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

There will also be a procession immediately following the funeral that will travel from the church to a graveside burial service at Cave Hill Cemetery on Baxter Avenue in the Highlands.

In the officer’s honor, Mayor Greg Fischer ordered that all flags on Metro Government buildings be lowered to half-staff. The Big Four Bridge will be lit up in blue on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

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