Hundreds honor fallen Ind. corrections officer

March 13, 2012 8:02:17 AM PDT
A northwest Indiana corrections officer killed by a hit-and-run driver was honored with a police funeral Monday.

Britney Meux, 25, died last week when investigators say the driver of an SUV plowed into her and three of her colleagues as they jogged near the Lake County jail complex in Crown Point, Ind.

Hundreds of fellow law enforcement officers, family members and friends attended the funeral service.

A flag-draped casket carrying Meux's body arrived early Monday at Hammond's First Baptist Church.

"Any time any law enforcement officer gives their life defending their community, it is worthy of the public to take notice," said Scott McDaniel of the Officer's Memorial Team.

Meux died while jogging with three co-workers -- officers Latasha Johnson, 34, Delano Scaife, 22 and David Murchek, 26 -- who were badly injured. Police say Jason Cozmanoff, 42, struck the group with his SUV and then drove off. He eventually turned himself into authorities.

Cozmanoff is charged with felony failure to stop after an accident. Authorities impounded the vehicle, which showed signs of damage from the impact, and they say additional charges could follow.

"Our department right now, we're still hurting right now, but we're trying to get through. It has made us a closer tight-knit family," said Niecey Gore, Lake Co. Sheriff's Department Corrections Division deputy warden of security.

Meux's corrections colleagues wore buttons in her memory as they arrived at the church Monday to comfort each other and remember her.

During the eulogy, Meux was described as a sprited, personable, smart woman who was thrilled to be a first time mom. The Marine Corps veteran leaves behind a 5-month-old baby girl.

"Everybody got a chance to see how much she meant to everybody," said cousin Michael McGrone.

"Britney smiled all the time, and she made everybody else feel like everything was OK," Gore said. "She bonded with everyone. She motivated everyone."

The funeral procession rode through Lake County in order to drive past the Lake County Government Center, where co-workers came out to pay respects to Meux.

"It was a home going occasion and we appreciate all the help from the Lake County Sheriff Department, that they really put their time and effort to working with our family, to make sure that she went home properly," said cousin Vincent Meux.

"When we lose one of our own in the law enforcement profession, it affects us all, and we want the family to know that we understand their pain," said McDaniel.

The procession ended in Gary at Ridgelawn Cemetery.

The suspect accused in the hit-and-run accident that killed Officer Meux is now free on bond. Cozmanoff had his first court appearance in Lake County Monday morning. Cozmanoff's family was able to pay the bail that was set at $90,000. His attorney told the judge that he hopes it's evident that the accident was not intentional. He also said that Cozmanoff and his family send condolences to the Meux family and those who were injured.

Cozmanoff's next court hearing is set for next month.