Pearland Police Officers Association seeing fundraising success for new police memorial garden in honor of city’s fallen officers

Tom Kennedy

Pearland police association leaders believe their May 25 fundraiser will put over the top their drive to construct a $120,000 police memorial.

HPOU fully supports the fundraising drive, which Pearland Police Officers Association President John DeSpain said should be declared a complete success with the latest public event,

a benefit concert by the Spazmatics at $25 per ticket.

“We have lost three officers over the 50-year history of the Pearland Police Department to a line-of-duty death,” Detective DeSpain told the Badge & Gun. “The last one was in 2016 to an intoxicated driver.”

Before the death of Officer Endy Ekpany, DeSpain said he and another officer initiated the idea of a memorial. The effort built up after Ekpany’s death and the PPOA president said only Hurricane Harvey stunted the growth of the funds that needed to be raised.

He said before the May 25 event the association had put together about 57 percent of the $120,000 needed for the Fallen Officers Memorial Garden. He said most of the architectural concept and construction have been donated, thus saving a large amount of money needed in what he emphasized is a private fundraising effort involving no Pearland tax money.

“The designer worked free,” he said. “The project was approved by the city and the police chief. We started the fundraising and were doing well when Hurricane Harvey hit. We stopped – or temporarily suspended it.

“Our fingers are crossed but it looks promising that when we subtract the construction services that have been donated we should reach our goal with this concert.”

DeSpain stressed that the association will still need donations for future maintenance. He referred any questions about donations to his email address: jdespain@pearlandpoa.org.

He also referred to the association’s  website: pearlandpoa.com.

Pearland is one of Houston’s fastest growing suburbs, with a current population of 120,000 and a police force of 175 officers.

The memorial will include a garden with each fallen hero memoralized with his likeness etched into a granite headstone.

As DeSpain said, three Pearland officers have made the ultimate sacrifice. And they are:

Officer Henry W. Wendell, Jr.

End of Watch: October 6, 1967
Officer Wendell was struck and killed by a car while he was directing traffic at the intersection of Main and Plum following a Pearland v. Channelview High School football game on October 6, 1967. Officer Wendell chose to hold over past his regular shift to help ease traffic congestion at the time of the accident. Officer Wendell had served seven years on the Houston Auxiliary Police Force and four years as a plain clothed Warrant Officer with HPD. Prior to that Officer Wendell served in the U.S. Marine Corp. Officer Wendell was survived by his wife and five children.

Officer Wendell’s cousin, Houston Police Officer D.F. Horn was quoted as saying that, “Henry had always wanted to be a policeman, ever since he was a small child.” Then-Chief A.H. Casey described Wendell as, “a conscientious, dedicated officer.” On December 15, 1967 Officer Wendell was posthumously awarded a Medal of Valor by the National Police Officers Association of America. Wendell had only been with Pearland PD for 1 ½ months before to his death. 

Officer James Howard Cassidy, Jr.

End of Watch: May 16, 1973
Officer Cassidy, a motorcycle officer, was struck and killed by a truck while conducting a commercial vehicle escort. The accident occurred as Officer Cassidy was stopped on the Gulf Freeway on May 16, 1973. Officer Cassidy had served with the Pearland Police Department for 5 years at the time of his death. Officer Cassidy had also served 5 years with the Lufkin Police Department after service in Vietnam with the Air Force. He was survived by his wife and two children.

Condolences and tributes poured in in the days and weeks following Officer Cassidy’s death. Then-Mayor Carlton McComb made the following proclamation: “…I, Carlton McComb, by the power vested in me as Mayor of the City of Pearland, Texas, do hereby proclaim the week of June 10th, 1973 through June 16th, 1973, as James Howard Cassidy, Jr. Week in Pearland, and give our prayers and recognition to the outstanding deeds of this fine police officer and that through men like him our city and this world will become a better place to live.”

Officer Endy Ekpanya

End of Watch: June 12, 2016
Officer Ekpanya was struck and killed by high-speed driver while in route to a non-emergency call for service. Officer Ekpanya was eastbound at 2500 Broadway when a driver crossed the center line and struck his patrol car. Officer Ekpanya had served with the department less than a year.

Endy was born in Nigeria, Africa and after becoming a United States citizen and graduating high school he went on to earn two Bachelor of Arts degrees: one in Psychology and the other in Sociology. Endy completed his first year of law school but he felt a strong calling to law enforcement and instead changed his area of study to Criminal Justice.

Endy was hired as a Police Cadet with the Pearland Police Department in June, 2015. After graduating from the police academy, Endy was assigned to Night Shift patrol on D Squad. As a patrol officer Endy had a powerful impact on those around him. Stories abound of his generosity and compassion. Endy will be remembered as a man of honor, value and integrity. He is survived by his wife and son.