Over the last few weeks, San Luis Obispo County and beyond came together to mourn the loss of Detective Luca Benedetti of the San Luis Obispo Police Department, who was a community member, husband, father, and friend.
On Thursday, May 20, after an honorable service and a first responder procession to the Paso Robles Cemetery Det. Benedetti was laid to rest. Full story to follow.
The Friday before, on May 14, a candlelight vigil was held in honor of the Det. Benedetti at the Mission Plaza San Luis Obispo.
The 12 year veteran of law enforcement was killed in the line of duty as a result of a shooting that occurred while officers were serving a search warrant at an apartment on Camellia Court.
Prior to the vigil, caravans from organized groups Protect Paso, Protect Atascadero, and Protect SLO drove from Paso Robles through Templeton and Atascadero to Higuera and Osos Street.
Vehicles were adorned with flags and decorations in support of law enforcement.
Supporters also lined the streets with blue line flags, cheering on the honking vehicles. Afterward, supporters walked to Mission Plaza to pay their respects during the vigil.
Former Chaplain with Atascadero Police Department (APD), Rick Comstock, recited a Paul Harvey narration, “Policeman.”
Comstock had a chance to go on a ride-along with Det. Benedetti when he was with APD.
“Policeman. A Policeman is a composite of what all men are, mingling of a saint and sinner, dust and deity.
What is a policeman made of? He, of all men, is once the most needed and the most unwanted. He’s a strangely nameless creature who is ‘sir’ to his face and ‘fuzz’ to his back.
The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy, and a gentleman. And, of course, he’d have to be genius. For he will have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.”
District Attorney Dan Dow spoke and shared a story from local resident Noah Briley.
“My arresting officer that saved my life by arresting me is the officer that passed away. This is very sad to me. He treated me with so much respect and humanity. I was too unhealthy to get booked into jail, so we sat at the hospital for 18 plus hours together. We talked mostly about our kids and IPA’s. I ran into him at a Mexican restaurant about five months ago, and he obviously didn’t recognize me. I was able to thank him for saving my life. I told him I had 18 months clean and happiness in my life. He told me he was proud of me. I feel for his family. Rest In Peace, Officer Benedetti.”
Dow also shared that while Det. Benedetti served at APD; he helped a mother deliver her baby in the parking lot after her family drove to the APD since they could not make it to the hospital in time.
The newly appointed San Luis Obispo Police Chief Rick Scott then said a few words, “I didn’t get a chance to meet him, I didn’t get a chance to get to know him, but I am doing that now. I am learning who he was through the stories of the incredible men and women that served alongside him.”
Detective Steve Orozco was injured during the shooting and was returned home to continue recovery with his family. He is expected to fully recover from his injuries.
A GoFundMe page has been started for Det. Orozco recovery and has raised over $45,690 as of May 23.
To donate to Detective Orozco Relief Fund, visit gofundme.com and search Detective Orozco Relief Fund.
The police cruiser that Det. Benedetti drove has been parked on the SLO Police Department lawn in front of the station on Santa Rosa Street. The cruiser and lawn have been adorned with balloons and flowers as residents pay tribute to the fallen officer.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department Police Officer Association and the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT team set up a GoFundMe page for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to Det. Benedetti’s family.
More than 3.8 thousand people have donated to the fund, and more than $607,875 has been raised.
Here is some of what they shared:
“Luca left behind his beautiful wife and their two precious young daughters. As a community, we cannot fix this loss, but we can provide love, prayers, and financial support to those left behind tasked with picking up the pieces of this broken family.
Luca, age 37, was born in San Francisco to his Italian immigrant parents and raised in the Bay area. Luca moved to the Central Coast to attend Cal Poly, where he studied engineering, but his true career passion was found in law enforcement. Following his graduation from the Allan Hancock Police Academy, Luca began his career with the Atascadero Police Department in 2008 and was an officer with the San Luis Obispo Police Department since 2012. Luca was a proud member of the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT team, and his brothers and sisters in blue could not be prouder of his accomplishments as a sworn officer, SWAT Operator, and, more importantly, as the man, he was to his family and friends.
Luca loved cooking, organic gardening and displayed his Italian heritage proudly around his neck. Luca lived for his family, and now that he has passed, we will do our best as a community, both far and wide, to help his family in any way we can.
All generously donated funds will go directly to Luca’s family as they navigate this very difficult time.”
To donate to Detective Benedetti Relief Fund, visit gofundme.com and search Luca Benedetti Family Relief Fund.
The public service that was held at the Cal Poly Performing Arts center and first responder procession to the Paso Robles Cemetery can be viewed here.
Photos below are tell a visual story of the days events. A full story of the service to follow.
Photos by Camille DeVaul, Nicholas Mattson and Hayley Mattson