'Very disappointing': Clinton family's plea to name local bridge after fallen police officer voted down in city council

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Saturday, October 10, 2020
Clinton family's plea to name local bridge after fallen officer
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"I think the bridge is a fitting memorial for him and he deserves it," Officer Tucker's brother, Reginald Tucker said.

CLINTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Clinton family's mission to honor their fallen loved one in blue was voted down during a Tuesday evening city council meeting, leaving the family disappointed and eager to try again.

Clinton Police Department Officer Donald Ray Tucker was shot and killed in the line of duty on Nov. 14, 1991. The officer had only been a part of the department for a little over a year.

Since Officer Tucker's death, CPD has created a memorial in front of the headquarters with his name carved in it and a picture of him inside their department. With the 30th anniversary almost a year away, Officer Tucker's brother, Reginald Tucker, has started pushing for the city to name a nearby bridge after him.

"He was the best, people think I'm biased about it, but he was one of the best brothers you could have," Reginald said.

The family enlisted the help of Councilman Daniel Ruggles, who presented the resolution to have the bridge on U.S. 421 over N.C. 24 be named after Officer Tucker. During a Tuesday evening city council meeting, the resolution was voted into the agenda where it needed to have a unanimous vote to pass.

"I think the bridge is a fitting memorial for him and he deserves it," Ruggles said.

Unfortunately, for Tucker's family, the resolution failed with Councilmen Neal Strickland and Holden Dubose voting against it.

Reginald was at the meeting and had a chance to speak on the resolution, telling council members it would help unite the community and let more people recognize his brother's sacrifice.

"It was very disappointing that something so simple that should've been passed wasn't passed," Reginald said.

In the meeting, Mayor Lew Starling noted he wanted a proper approach to this procedure where the item wasn't just introduced during the meeting. Meanwhile, Councilman Strickland noted concerns of setting a precedent where they would need to start having honorary designations for all city employees.

"That was more a slap in the face. How can you compare, how can you compare a public works employee to a police officer?" Tucker asked.

Councilman Ruggles tells Eyewitness News the NCDOT project wouldn't cost the city a single penny and would not affect the name of the current freeway.

Despite the resolution failing, Tucker is still hoping he can see his brother's name over the bridge by Nov. 14, 2021.

Councilman Ruggles says the growing community support for the name designation should help get the process started back up.