Inaugural Sonny Kim Memorial Ride stirs emotions, memories

Posted at 12:52 PM, Jun 11, 2016

CINCINNATI -- On Saturday, more than 250 bikers gathered to take part in the inaugural Sonny Kim Memorial Ride, an event to honor the CPD officer who was killed on duty almost one year ago.

The ride will stop at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, where participants will visit Kim's grave.

Kim, 48 and a 27-year veteran of the Cincinnati police force, was shot and killed after he was lured to the corner of Whetsel Avenue and Roe Street by a report of a man "walking around, getting belligerent with a gun" on the morning of June 19, 2015. His shooter, TrePierre Hummons, 21, made that call himself, police said following the shooting.

Kim tried to talk to Hummons, whose mother stood nearby. He drew his Taser, not knowing that Hummons was armed, said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

Kim never shot back. He fell to the street; Hummons then wrestled away the officer's gun and was shot by his parole officer, also on the scene.

LISTEN: Last radio call to Officer Kim

PHOTOS: Officer Sonny Kim's funeral procession

The shot that killed Kim was "a horrible piece of luck," Deters said. The difference between Kim's surviving and dying was "centimeters."

The ribbing of Kim's vest "was described to us like a deck of cards, a webbing, so the vest can expand," Deters said. "If [the bullet] had hit one of the ribs of that vest, it would have stopped it."

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Cincinnatians and visitors alike lined the streets for Kim's funeral procession; his funeral, held at the Cintas Center, had nearly 7,000 attendees.

Kim left behind a wife, Jessica, and three sons -- Timothy, Joshua and Jacob. 

READ: A letter to the wife of Officer Kim

READ: Officer Kim's son's powerful goodbye message

"He was always a police officer ... When I grew up, I wanted to be an astronaut or a baseball player," Kim's brother, Micky, said at his funeral service. "But with Sonny it was always one thing - that tunnel vision to be a police officer .. He was so proud to wear that uniform. He was so proud to be part of that fraternity."

Kim was also the owner and main karate instructor at the Japanese Karate-Do dojo in Symmes Township. Some of his karate students attended the funeral and visitation.

Kim attended Norwood schools in third and fourth grades and eighth and ninth grades. After the family moved to Chicago, he graduated from Carl Schurz High School in Chicago in 1984 and then attended Truman College in Chicago in 1984-1985. He returned here Cincinnati and started at the University of Cincinnati in 1986.

One of Kim's best friends, Buddy Blankenship, whom he met at UC, spoke about Kim's love of the Queen City -- and how he was welcomed and liked everywhere he went.

"One of the things I came to appreciate most about Sonny was he was never out of place, he always belonged - no matter where we went. Whether  a blues bar in Corryville, a night club in Oakley, a corner pub in Norwood or a chili parlor in Pleasant Ridge, Sonny was welcomed with open arms," he said.

"Being Sonny's friend opened the door to experiences and friendships I almost certainly would have otherwise passed on. Sonny helped me see the value of opening your heart to all the different types of people our city had to offer."