While Prince George's Police Ofc. Adrian Morris, 23, may have been small in stature — standing just over five feet tall — those that knew him say he more than made up for any physical shortcomings in courage and motivation.
In fact, Morris' fearless reputation earned him the nickname "Baby Hercules" by his fellow officers at Prince George's County Police's District VI station.
"There was no fear in him," District VI station NCO Bruce Jasper said Monday outside Borgwardt Funeral Home in Beltsville. "He was a good officer, who was highly motivated. (Being a police officer) is something he always wanted to do."
Jasper was just one of the hundreds of uniformed officers who gathered on Monday afternoon to honor Morris, a Laurel resident who was killed last week after his police cruiser ran into a ditch on I-95 in Beltsville during a police chase.
"It's hard to tell among this sea of uniforms, but there are service men and women from all departments here," Prince George's County Assistant Chief Kevin Davis said. "This is a loss for both the police and the community."
Morris, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High in 2007 and became a United States citizen in 2009.
Before becoming a police officer, Morris was a member of the Police Explorers at District VI for five years, and had continued as an advisor and mentor to the Boy Scout-affiliated group after joining the force, police said.
Standing in front of the funeral home, Davis noted Morris' dedication and commitment to becoming a police officer, and said that his enthusiasm was his defining characteristic.
"You couldn't write a script that could depict a young person so dedicated to public service if you tried," Davis said. "For Officer. Morris it was a calling ... it was in his heart, it was in everything he did as a young person. He fulfilled that dream, and his life was cut short."
Linda Oliver, acting president of the Police Civilian Employees Association, was involved with hiring Morris, and remembers his desire to become a police officer.
"This is it, this is what he wanted to do," Oliver said. "It's such a loss."
Oliver added that Morris was very family-oriented, and said it's important that the community supports his family through this tragic time.
Kaushal Patel, owner of Tubby's Diner and Liquors in West Laurel, is collecting and donating food and soft drinks for the repast being held at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in Upper Marlboro Tuesday following funeral services for Morris.
Patel said he was approached by a friend who also knew Morris and who asked if he would lend the family a helping hand.
"He told me how great he was, and asked me if I would help the family out," Patel said. "He said the family was having some difficulty, and without him it's going to be very difficult."
A funeral service is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Woodstream Church, 9800 Lottsford Road, in Mitchellville.
Police are expecting attendance to reach into the thousands, and as a result anticipate heavy traffic delays.
Two arrests made after car chase
According to county police, Morris and a second officer, Ofc. Michael Risher, were investigating an attempted theft at the Laurel Shell at 6600 Sandy Spring Road (Route 198 westbound) Monday, Aug. 21.
Police said the officers chased two people who escaped in a car onto I-95 southbound, and apparently caught up with it and had communicated with the police dispatcher.
Police said Morris, who was driving, apparently lost control of his cruiser and drove into a ditch near Powder Mill Road in Beltsville.
Morris was ejected from his car, police said, and was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Risher was released from the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.
Police have arrested two men in connection with the car chase.
Kenneth Clark Mitchell, 24, of the 5300 block of Clay Terrace in Washington, was arrested on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
Kevon Darnell Neal, 23, of the 3400 block of Gennene Lane, in Fort Washington, turned himself in to Prince George's County Police on Thursday, Aug. 23.
Both are charged with felony theft for the stolen auto involved in the crash and are pursuing additional charges in the case.
Police have set up a memorial fund to assist Morris' family. Checks made payable to "FOP 89," with "Officer Adrian Morris Fund" on the memo line, should be mailed to: Officer Adrian Morris Fund, c/o PGPD District VI, 4321 Sellman Road, Beltsville, MD 20705.