SF Giants host law enforcement appreciation night

Law Enforcement Appreciation Night came to the SF Giants Thursday night, with a special pre-game ceremony.

Almost two dozen fallen officers were honored, including two young women who died as their careers were just beginning. 

"What an amazing honor for all the families that are here, to witness this," Lupe Corona told KTVU. 

Corona is the mother of Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona, 22, gunned down during a traffic stop in January. 

"The emotional connection with everyone has just been amazing," said Corona, lined up on the field with other families who lost loved ones in the line of duty. 

For the families, the game was about so much more than baseball.  

More than 100 police motorcycles from different departments made a procession onto the field, sirens sounding and lights flashing. 

"We'll go from end to end, home run pole to home run pole at least," said SFPD Sgt. John Braganolo, who heads the motorcycle detail, and has participated in the event for six seasons. "It's emotional, very emotional, and it's a great cause. We feel appreciated by the people for the job we do, because it can be a thankless job." 

The crowd showed appreciation with applause and standing at silent attention as the names and faces of fallen officers were shown on the big screen. 

"I'm surviving, one day at a time, that sums it up," said Keri Griess, who lost her husband of 29 years, CHP Officer Kirk Griess. Griess was killed in August 2018 by a distracted driver who hit him on the shoulder of Interstate 80 in Solano County.

The couple had been looking forward to his retirement.  

"One hundred percent, we had everything planned out to a tee, what we were going to do," said his widow. 

Staying to watch the Giants game with other families, Keri Griess said she and her three children were bolstered by law enforcement support during the past year. 

Her message: cops are people too. 

"They go home at the end of the day and take off the uniform and they actually are human, and they become a father, husband, and everything else."

Keri was flanked by her late husband's boss. 

"It's difficult for families, it's difficult for us colleagues too," said Chief Ernie Sanchez, of the Golden Gate Division CHP. "Kirk was my friend. I will never forget him."

Long after such ceremonies end, the relationships will continue 

And for the Corona family, there is comfort knowing their daughter was happy, and may still inspire others. 

"Being an officer was her dream, her goal in life, and she even said, 'Mom, there's nothing more I want,'" said Lupe Corona. "If she can inspire one young person to pursue a career in law enforcement, then her job is done."

The other promising rookie killed in the line of duty was 26 year old Tara O'Sullivan, raised in Pleasant Hill and working for the Sacramento Police Dept. when she was ambushed and shot to death by a domestic violence suspect last month. 

Law Enforcement Appreciation Night is a benefit for two organizations: The Bay Area Law Enforcement Assistance Fund and the California Peace Officers Memorial Foundation.