CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters, friends, family and community members gathered in Uptown Charlotte Wednesday to say their final goodbye at the funeral for fallen Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Mia Goodwin.
Goodwin, 33, died when she and three fellow officers were struck by a truck in the early morning of Dec. 22 on Interstate 85. CMPD confirmed Goodwin is the first female CMPD officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Goodwin, a six-year veteran of the force, had just returned to duty days prior after being on maternity leave. She leaves behind a 3-year-old child, a 1-year-old child, a 4-month-old baby, and husband Brenton Goodwin, who is a firefighter with the Charlotte Fire Department. Her children's names are Gabriella, Greyson and Gia.
Goodwin was born in Passaic, New Jersey, as the second child of Antonio and Mimi Figueroa. She had two siblings: Antonio Figueroa and Tiffany Figueroa.
She got her bachelor's of science from High Point University in High Point, North Carolina. It was there she met her future husband Brenton whom she married in 2017. Before joining CMPD in 2015, she worked for Bank of America in Greensboro and in Charlotte.
Officers also walked from CMPD headquarter, down South Davidson Street. After that, a motorcycle procession rolled down Uptown to First Baptist Church. Dozens of police vehicles from CMPD and other agencies from across the Charlotte area were in the ranks, flashing their blue lights, including CMPD dispatchers, the Gaston County Sheriff's Office, Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office and Matthews Police Department. Some officers from her home state of New Jersey also attended.
The Charlotte Fire Department also had a large presence, as Goodwin's widower is a Charlotte firefighter.
Once the hearse arrived, a silence fell over the crowd out of respect.
The visitation was open to the public and lasted from 10 a.m. until noon. People who had never met Goodwin lined the sidewalks to watch the procession go by and to pay their respects.
"She risked her life for us, we need to back the blue, we need to have their backs just as much as she had ours," Crystal Ashe told WCNC Charlotte's Tradesha Woodard.
The funeral started with some biblical readings before the CMPD color guard presented the nation's colors and people rose to sing the National Anthem.
CMPD Chaplain Angela Pleasants delivered the invocation to start the service, saying in part, "even now as we are here to mourn a loss and celebrate a life ... God, you are the true light."
"We pray that your strength will be with this family," Pleasants prayed.
Two scriptures were read, including Joshua 24:15 and I Peter 5:6-10.
"Mia paid the ultimate sacrifice"
- CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings
Wednesday's service started with the CMPD Color Guard recognizing Goodwin. CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings stepped to the podium and paid tribute to his fallen officer.
"There are no magic words that take this type of pain away, nor should there be," Jennings said. "That's part of what we go through when we lose a loved one and helps us heal. The support from the last week has been overwhelming."
Jennings went on to say that Goodwin died doing what she loved: Being a police officer.
"Mia paid that ultimate sacrifice doing something that she loved to do, and that's being a police officer," Jenning said. "We have a long journey ahead of us, but we will get through. Officer Mia Goodwin, your watch may have ended on Dec. 22, 2021, but your mission carries on. You can rest easy now, God bless."
"Mia is in a better place today" - Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson
"It's been difficult to come up with the words to say," Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said during the service.
He noted how the whole community is saddened by Goodwin's passing, encouraging people to lean on their faith.
"Mia is in a better place today," Johnson said. "Her work here is done. We will see her again."
"I loved her, but God loves her more"
- Mia Goodwin's father
Antonio Figueroa, Goodwin's father, delivered an emotional and passionate speech, thanking the Charlotte community for the outpouring of support since his daughter's death.
"I've thought about what I can say, what I can write down, but from the bottom of my heart, from my family to all of you, thank you," Figueroa said. "Thank you for accepting my daughter into your community. She inspired and touched a community that she learned to love."
Figueroa stood alongside Goodwin's husband during his remarks.
"So my son, thank you for taking care of my daughter, your wife," he said. "She loved you and you're a great man. A great person and I love that my grandchildren will not be alone."
Figueroa closed by telling the story of when he gave his daughter away at her wedding.
"Today, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters in Christ, once again I take my daughter's hand and gave her away to God," Figueroa said. "Because I loved her, but God loves her more."
"The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is hurting," Chief Johnny Jennings said last Wednesday in the aftermath of the crash. "We mourn the loss of Police Officer Goodwin."
Goodwin, and fellow officers Jackson Buffington, Sean Husk and Shannon Foster, were assisting the North Carolina State Highway Patrol with closing a portion of the interstate in northeast Charlotte near West WT Harris Boulevard.
Around 3:40 a.m., two trucks traveling southbound collided. Those vehicles then collided with the CMPD officers, according to Jennings.
Goodwin succumbed to her injuries at the scene while Buffington, Husk and Foster were transported by Medic to the hospital for treatment. All three were released from the hospital later Wednesday morning.
"Any officer that was on the scene was in the path of this collision," Jennings said.
The truck driver has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor death by vehicle, failure to reduce speed and felony failure to move over for stopped emergency vehicles.
Honoring her memory
After the crash, a memorial was started outside the CMPD University City division headquarters where Goodwin worked.
Online fundraisers, in part organized by The North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police chapter in Charlotte and the North Carolina chapter of the Back the Blue organization, have raised over $250,000 for Goodwin's family.