In a heartwarming photo that’s now gone viral, a civilian is seen holding an umbrella for a deputy who is paying her respects during a slain officer’s police procession. Witnesses report that the man stood patiently for about a half an hour, shielding the deputy from the rain — but she was not aware of his presence the entire time.
Deputy Tiffany Dial had been standing on the sidewalk on Saturday, saluting as a procession of police cars drove through Birmingham, Ala., for a fallen officer’s funeral. Sgt. Wytasha Carter, 44, had been killed in the line of duty on Jan. 13 while working on a case of car break-ins, according to Birmingham, Ala., news station ABC 33/40. The man with the striped umbrella never said a word to Dial, according to onlookers.
A pedestrian who was taken by the show of respect took a photo and shared it online, where it quickly went viral. Dial told Birmingham’s NBC 15 that she had noticed people were taking pictures of her, but she had no idea why until the photo made its way back to her. “I didn’t know he was there,” she said. “My peripheral vision was cut off with my hat, so I didn’t know anything was there. I was in my moment.”
But when she realized that someone had taken the time to perform the act of kindness, she was moved. “It meant a lot in ways that you really can’t put into words,” she said. “It wasn’t just about keeping the rain off of me for that little bit. It meant a lot more than that.” She told the station she wished she had a chance to thank the man, but when she turned around, he was gone.
Yahoo Lifestyle tracked down the Good Samaritan, Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney Shawn Allen. Allen said he was at work that morning and was keeping up with the police procession route online. When he realized the vehicles were approaching his area, he headed out into the rain to pay his respects. He said it was second nature to provide cover for the deputy once he spotted her.
“I had an umbrella and she didn’t, and I’d like to think that had she been a deputy saluting, or had she been just a regular person that was standing there paying her respects like I was, that I would have shared the umbrella either way,” he said. “And I imagine that if I had not done it, that probably somebody else may have come up minutes after that and very well may have done the same thing.”
Allen, a father of three, says he will have a chance to reunite with Dial on Wednesday evening on live television. She told ABC 33/40 that Allen’s gesture was comforting and made her feel less alone as she grieved for her fellow officer — and at a time when law enforcement needs the community’s support most. But Allen wants Dial to know “she doesn’t owe me anything.” He said, “I just appreciate what she does for a living, and I appreciate what she was doing on that day, and I just was happy to help somebody who helps people.”
Allen admits he’s a bit baffled by all the attention the photo is getting, but he told Yahoo Lifestyle that he’s “glad it made some folks happy.”
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