Local memorial service held for former Orange PD explorer Antwan Toney

By Joe Vargas

On Saturday, Nov. 3, at the House of Refuge Church in Gardena, Gwinnett County Police Officer Antwan Toney was given his final goodbyes in the presence of hundreds of family, friends, coworkers and fellow police officers.

On Oct. 22, Officer Toney was investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle. As Toney approached the vehicle, the suspect opened fire, shooting through the car windows. Officer Toney was transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Sgt. Rafael Ward of the Orange Police Department offers a remembrance of slain police officer Antwan Toney at City Refuge Church in Gardena. Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos

This was the second memorial service for Officer Toney, with the first taking place in Georgia. The service was attended by thousands of police officers and members of the public. News accounts described thousands of people lining the funeral procession route.

Officer Toney grew up in Southern California and was honored with a second memorial service so those that knew him from the area could honor him.

An attendee of the memorial service for slain police officer Antwan Toney at City Refuge Church in Gardena offers praise during the service. Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos

“He was one of those special guys when you hear anything about him that is positive it’s meant from the heart,” Orange Police Department Sgt. Rafael Ward said at the service.

Ward was Toney’s advisor when Toney was a police Explorer for the Orange PD. Ward shared a Facebook posting in which a young lady described being pulled over by Officer Toney for not having one of her children in a car seat. When she started crying and telling him she couldn’t afford one, he took her to Walmart and bought her a car seat.

Gwinnett County Police Major Everett Spellman said Antwan’s “integrity and character were known throughout the department and the surrounding community.” He described watching a video of Antwan playing pick-up basketball in full uniform with kids from the neighborhood.

His childhood friend, Tori Law, described Toney as a tall, skinny kid with thick glasses who grew up to be a handsome young man. He was forever popping the lens out of his glasses including in the middle of the maze at the Queen Mary Halloween haunt, where the monster had to stop scaring people and help Toney look for his lost lens.

Hundreds attend the memorial service for slain police officer Antwan Toney at City Refuge Church in Gardena. Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos

Toney’s brother, Dartangan Johnson, recalled when his brother responded to a call of a girl being bullied. After taking her home, he was introduced to her special-needs brother who had dreams of playing basketball in the Special Olympics. Toney took him under his wing and would make special trips to visit him and coach him.

Honor guards from the Gwinnett County PD and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department made the trip out to California to honor Toney. The Orange PD also provided honor guard attendees for this service as well as the service in Georgia in October.

Members of the Orange Police Department and Gwinnett County Police Department honor guards escort the body of slain police officer Antwan Toney at the end of Saturday’s memorial service at City of Refuge Church in Gardena. Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos

The Los Angeles Police Department Honor Guard and the Los Angeles Police Department Emerald Society participated in the ceremony, giving a 21-gun salute and playing “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes for the final internment at Inglewood Park Cemetery.