Friend, husband, father, advocate-38-year-old postal worker Kevin Ellis Wicks embodied all of those things, and at his funeral Thursday, the community poured out their love and condolences for the Inglewood resident whose life tragically ended July 21 in an officer-involved shooting.
Nearly 900 people turned out to pay their respects to Wicks, whose funeral was held at the Faithful Central Bible Church's Tabernacle.
The controversial case, which has sparked outrage among the citizens of Inglewood and has placed the Inglewood Police Department under scrutiny, has also generated a $25 million wrongful death claim. The claim was filed Friday by the Sweeny law firm in the name of 11-year-old Milan Wicks, one of Wicks' daughters, against the city of Inglewood and the Inglewood Police Department.
Earlier last week, the Inglewood City Council voted to contract with the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review to provide investigative review of the department.
Concerned about the three victims who were slain within a three-month period in officer-involved shootings involving Inglewood police, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) held a press conference Monday, July 28, to announce that she had sent a letter to the U. S. Attorney General calling for a federal investigation into the Inglewood Police Department.
One co-worker recalled that Wicks always had "a quick and ready smile." "No matter what the situation was, Kevin was always willing to help," said the co-worker who wanted to remain anonymous. "Kevin is one brother that I will truly miss."
Others recall that Wicks, who loved music, was nicknamed "the iPod man" who would generously record the latest tunes for his family and friends. A graduate of Pacific Palisades High School and a member of the Masons, many recalled that Wicks enjoyed motorcycling, travel, sports, cars, and music.
The 6 ft. 2 inch, 230-pound Inglewood resident, father of two daughters ages 2 and 11, was also remembered as someone who enjoyed mentoring young children.
Several heartfelt messages were delivered during the services, including touching words from Wicks' brother Austin III, who sent a letter in his absence. "It's real hard for me to express my most inner thoughts, because I haven't grasped reality and realized you're actually not here anymore," Austin wrote. "I've lost my mentor, role model and older brother."
Heartfelt poems were delivered by Donna Lee Washington and Wicks' niece Natasha, who trembled and wiped away tears as she read, "You were the only one who kept it real...a guiding light, take my hand, and show me the way...and just promise me, you'll be with me each day."
"We know that Kevin is with the Lord," said Pastor Stephen McGlover of the Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, a longtime family friend who delivered the benediction. "Kevin was a man's man. We are here to celebrate the life of a good brother. Although Kevin is absent in the body, he is present in the Lord."
"Kevin loved his girls. He was always teasing, tickling, joking, laughing, and snuggling," said McGlover. " Kevin loved his Harley Davidson. He loved good food. He loved sweets, apple pie and ice cream. He loved his friends. He had a sense of humor. Kevin enjoyed bike rides to Oakland. And of course, Kevin loved music. He loved hip hop, soul, R&B, and jazz. He loved Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Frank Sinatra, P-Funk, Parliament, George Clinton, Funkadelic, and Frankie Beverly and Maze."
During the funeral, a representative of the City of Inglewood, Assemblyman Curren Price, Pastor Kenneth C. Ulmer and members of Faithful Central Bible Church and Missionary Baptist Church honored Wicks with proclamations.
Pastor Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine, Calif. recalled that Kevin and his father Austin, loved their community. "Kevin and his father participated in a march along the Adams Boulevard corridor to close crack houses and to rid the community of the Crips and the Bloods," recalls Whitlock.
Minister Tony Muhammad, western regional leader of the Nation of Islam, urged community residents to keep Wicks' memory in their hearts and not let his untimely death be in vain. "We need to stand up and become the police for our community. We will be relentless in our pursuit of justice," said Muhammad.
"You and I will heal these wounds by healing society," said pastor Cecil "Chip" Murray, who also called for community action in the wake of Wicks' death. "We will not stop until justice is done."
Hundreds of friends and family accompanied Wicks' casket to the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City where he was laid to rest.