RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been one year since Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd was killed in the line of duty.
The two men accused of killing him are still awaiting trial.
In the meantime, Byrd’s friends and family chose to remember him Saturday, the way they know best: jiu-jitsu.
Under Byrd’s smiling face, broadcast on the big screen at PNC Arena, about 200 people grappled and worked on their jiu-jitsu techniques, in his memory.
“This is the second time we’ve done it. We call it ‘Roll for Ned.’ It’s just kind of like a tribute to Deputy Byrd because he was a big jiu-jitsu enthusiast,” said Raleigh Police Officer Tom Webb, one of the organizers.
The gathering of law enforcement officers, friends and family occurred one year and one day after the Wake County Deputy was killed on patrol.
“I remember him every day. It just lets me know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to forget him. So just let me know everybody else is trying to make sure everybody remembers him,” said Byrd’s sister, Mignon Perkins, who traveled from out of town for the event.
“Ned really loved jiu-jitsu. He really loved being a law enforcement officer. He really loved being a deputy in a K-9 car. It was something that he worked very hard to become,” added Conrad Faust, one of Byrd’s close friends.
The refusal to back down and the refusal to be defeated are two of the messages and meanings behind not only this specialty of martial arts, but also what their friend and brother believed in.
“He never, ever gave up. He always persevered, and he was able to achieve those goals,” said Faust.
“He touched everyone that he met. I always did. If you knew him, you were lucky,” said Perkins.
The people in the arena didn’t all know each other.
But in the shadow of Bryd’s patrol car, draped with a cross, and doing his favorite hobby, they’re all in the grieving process together, and all awaiting justice.
“Our family’s just very grateful of the men and women in the department and the Jiu-Jitsu community,” said Elina Pereira, Byrd’s cousin. “It has brought us joy and solace to know that someone outside of our family loved him and are continuing to take his memory and the things that he loved and share them with one another.”