Sonny, as he was known to everyone, was given a full honor police service. He died on June 2 after being struck by a car while walking down the sidewalk on West Ridge Road in Greece.
Sonny was the first Korean born police officer in Monroe County. Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard was his class counselor when Sonny entered the police academy in 1987. "For him it was a whole new world just to be in that environment, but he had a burning desire to be in law enforcement, to be a member of the Rochester Police Department, and he had to work hard to make it happen and he did that," recalled Sheppard.
Sonny served in the RPD until 1996 before transferring to Gates. During the funeral, he was described as the cop's cop and a hero in blue, who stood out for his smile, sense of humor and exuberance to serve. One example of that exuberance was his desire to join the newly formed Gates keystone Club Police Pipes and Drums, even though he didn't play an instrument. "He wanted to join the band and so to have our first Asian officer in a kilt was pretty funny to see," said Gates Police Lt. Jim VanBrederode.
Although he could make everyone laugh, Sonny was also revered for his courage. A 2002 crash while on duty nearly took his life. Sonny suffered brain damage and retired, but he never lost his will to excel. Sean Singh, who met Sonny as a teenager, remembers how amazed he was to see Sonny ski in Alaska after the accident. "He never stopped trying," said Singh. "He always wanted to accomplish something else, achieve something else and really make it work."
Singh delivered the family eulogy during the funeral. RPD officer Dan Nowack and Gates officer Lance Duffy also eulogized Sonny. They said the only people who weren't friends with Sonny were the people who didn't know him. "Obviously it's not easy to say goodbye to your brother, but all the good memories that he gave us thoughout the years really made an impact on us and we wanted to honor him to the best of our ability," said Duffy.
Sonny's spiritualism and faith came across, according to Duffy, as he watched his friend pray. The 47 year old leaves behind his wife Kara and two sons, Jason and Elliott. A private burial will be held Tuesday.
As for the accident that took Sonny's life, no charges have been filed against the driver, who Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter said Monday night may have suffered some kind of medical issue behind the wheel. The investigation continues.