OAKLAND, Calif. - At his day job, he creates sketches of suspects and on his time off he uses his skills to honor slain officers.
As the Oakland police family mourns the loss of their colleague and friend, 36-year-old Officer Tuan Le, shot and killed while responding to a burglary at a cannabis dispensary on Dec. 29, a fellow officer who never met Le, is honoring his memory with a digital sketch.
"These are people."
It’s something he’s done time after time.
"They’re human beings."
The artist uses their likeness as a tribute to their sacrifice.
"They’re officers who put their lives on the line every day."
In 8 years, forensic artist and Philadelphia Police Officer Jonny Castro has created about 1,400 of what he calls portraits of valor.
His subjects are slain officers, including K-9s, military Veterans, other first responders like firefighters, and civilian victims of crime.
His motivation is helping others heal.
Forensic artist Jonny Castro of Philly created this digital portrait of slain Oakland police officer Tuan Le.
"It’s a nice feeling to know when you’ve lost somebody that there are other people out there that are thinking about you that are trying to provide you comfort in probably the worst time of your life," Castro said.
The Army combat Veteran and 18-year police veteran knows all too well what it’s like to lose a teammate after serving in Iraq and on the police force.
"Trying to remember them is important," Castro said.
When he got word of Officer Le’s killing, he got to work.
"I’ve spoken with members of Oakland PD that knew Tuan," Castro said, including an officer who worked alongside Le the day he was killed.
Castro says an enlarged version of this portrait will be on display at Officer Le’s funeral.
It’s something he does for every life he pays tribute to.
"These officers have husbands, wives, daughters, sons that they’re leaving behind and, hopefully, these stories, when they read them, these people will understand that, and they’ll remember them also."
Castro is also shipping prints of his artwork to Officer Le’s family, in addition to the large portrait that will be on display at this funeral.
Arrangements have not yet been announced.
Castro told KTVU a member of the Oakland Police Department asked to have a portrait of Le made, but Castro was already in the process of making one after hearing about the tragic news.
Every portrait of a fallen officer he creates is provided for free.