Yandy Chirino honored as ‘true hero’ at funeral service

At a funeral service packed with family, friends and law enforcement from across South Florida, Hollywood Officer Yandy Chirino was remembered Monday as a hero and role model.

“Yandy was more than an officer, he was a true hero,” Hollywood Police Chief Christopher O’Brien said at the service at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise. “He sacrificed his life protecting our community.”

“We will never forget you Yandy, Rest in peace, brother. We’ll take it from here,” the chief added.

The funeral procession for the slain 28-year-old officer left the Vista Memorial Gardens Cemetery funeral home in Miami Lakes around 8:30 a.m. and headed 24 miles to the 10 a.m. service at the arena that was open to the public.

Bagpipes played as Chirino’s casket was brought in, covered by an American flag, with all in uniform saluting.

The service was followed by a full honors presentation, including a riderless horse, a rifle volley, the playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes, a last radio call, a flyover and the folding of an American flag.

The procession was then expected to travel for a brief stop at Memorial Regional Hospital, where Chirino died, before making a final stop at the Hollywood Police Department.

The procession will then return to the cemetery in Miami Lakes for Chirino’s burial, which is private for family, close friends and fellow officers.

Inside the services for Officer Yandy Chirino. The @FLALiveArena is filled with police departments from across South Florida. His casket, covered with an American flag, was led in by his family and fellow officers, and everyone else in uniform stood saluting. @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/rzsdxsL4aN

— Ian Margol (@IanMargolWPLG) November 1, 2021

Chirino had volunteered to work the night of Oct. 17 when he responded to calls of a burglary suspect in the Emerald Hills community of Hollywood. As Chirino tried to detain a man, he was shot and killed.

Jason Banegas, 18, was arrested in the killing and charged with first-degree murder and multiple other charges. Investigators said Banegas had a stolen gun that discharged in a struggle with Chirino. Banegas told police he didn’t intend to shoot Chirino and was trying to shoot himself.

Chirino worked for Hollywood police for four years and received several commendations, including an officer of the month honor.

“He died doing what he loves,” Chirino’s sister Yaily Chirino told Local 10 News. “He’s a hero”

Monday brought a chance to say a final farewell and remember that hero who graduated from Coral Park Senior High School in 2011 and from Florida International University in 2015.

Among those in attendance at the service were Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeannette Nunez, Attorney General Ashley Moody and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz presented a flag that flew above the Capitol in Washington last week in honor of Chirino, and friends and family shared stories about the beloved officer.

“Every night before he left for work I would say, ‘I love you, be safe,’” Chirino’s girlfriend Chelsea Howell said at the funeral service. “I know he is looking down on us saying, ‘Wow, this is all for me.’”

The couple had been together more than two years after meeting at Memorial Regional Hospital while both were working.

“To Yandy,” Howell said, “I loved you then, I love you now you will always be in my heart. I will love you forever, Yandy Chirino.”

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