Tough but compassionate, a faithful listener, stolid, approachable, and a lover of sweets. Fellow officers recalled his mischievous smile. His two children say what they’ll miss the most is his “deep-bellied laughter.”
Above all, those who knew San Antonio Police Detective Benjamin Marconi, 50, remembered him as their “rock” – a man who put his duty to his family and city before everything else.
“Ben was a kind man, but he was a force to be reckoned with,” the fallen officer’s daughter, Jacy Marconi, said to the more than 3,000 people at his funeral Monday morning. “He taught my brother and I that you should always stand your ground, and to speak your voice and your opinion, but let others feel safe in voicing their opinions.”
Marconi was shot twice in the head on Nov. 20 while writing a ticket for an unrelated traffic stop outside the SAPD headquarters. His killer, Otis McKane, was peacefully arrested following a 30-hour manhunt. McKane told reporters he “lashed out at somebody who didn’t deserve it.”
Officers in uniform, including his police academy classmates, comprised about half the crowd gathered at the Community Bible Church. The remainder predominantly wore blue to symbolize its respect for Marconi’s 20 years of service.
In front of a cobalt curtain and flanked by blue lights and candles, an image of Marconi’s memorable smile beamed above his casket.
San Antonio Police Chaplain Betsy Butler and Rev. Phil Henning of Sacred Heart Catholic Church led the funeral service in the nondenominational church.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better father,” Marconi’s son, Dane Marconi, said, pausing to hold back tears. “He was always there. Sporting events, school, stealing Jacy’s cupcakes … I just hope that I’m half the man he was.”
Several elected officials attended the ceremony, including Mayor Ivy Taylor, the entire City Council, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, and several State senators and representatives. Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich also attended.
Monday’s funeral follows a well-attended, private viewing on Sunday and a memorial march that drew hundreds downtown on Friday. Groups have organized another silent memorial walk from the Alamo to the police headquarters Monday night at 7:30 p.m.
A fellow officer in the special victims unit, Sgt. Michael Davis, spoke of Marconi’s ability to “simplify the most complex problems” and provide a helping hand to anyone who needed it.
“He experienced and saw things on a daily basis that most people rarely experience in a lifetime,” Davis said. “While performing his duties, Ben never forgot that there were true needs of compassion for all persons.”
Sgt. Norwood Jones, an officer from Marconi’s academy class, said the man’s “personality was bigger than life.”
He shared the story of a time when Marconi refused to let EMS tend to his wounds after he chased down and subdued a felon.
“Ben looked up at them with that square Marconi jaw and said, ‘No disrespect sirs, but my team needs me, and I’m not abandoning them or my post, not now, not ever.’”
Marconi’s children said their father downplayed his many close calls and accomplishments on the job, and focused on their lives rather than his.
“When he’d come home, all beat up or whatever, he’d say, ‘Well, you should have seen the other guy,’” his son explained.
Outside the police force, Marconi was well respected among San Antonio’s LGBTQIA community, which Robert Salcido of Equality Texas said has been hit hard by the tragedy.
Marconi’s Twitter account reflects his concern with this year’s rising aggression toward law enforcement, and he frequently voiced solidarity with victims of targeted attacks.
Born in 1966 to former SAPD officer James and his wife Minerva in Floresville, Marconi earned a business degree from Texas A&M-Kingsville before entering the police force.
After a final blessing, mourners flowed into the parking lot outside the church, where they were welcomed by a steady dirge performed on bagpipes and drums. The music suddenly stopped, and as ministers, the honor guard, and family members led Marconi’s casket out of the building, a 15-foot flag flapped in a restless breeze.
A three-volley salute and helicopter flyover broke the silence. Then police radios throughout the crowd crackled with a voice declaring Marconi officially retired from service.