Last May thousands of people turned out to honor slain Deputy Sheriff Frank Fabiano, jr. Hundreds of police officers from throughout the Midwest packed the Carthage College chapel and the seemingly endless procession of squad cars to the cemetery was witnessed by young and old alike. A visiting officer, Madison’s Brian Austin, wrote that his colleagues were humbled by the outpouring of respect the Kenosha community paid to Deputy Fabiano and his family.
Now that Ezequiel Lopez Quintero has been convicted of killing Deputy Fabiano, it’s time for this community to appropriately recognize another hero on that fatal May 16, University of Wisconsin-Parkside Police Officer Jimmie Spino.
It was Officer Spino who, while on patrol, observed that Deputy Fabiano was having trouble getting a van to stop. Officer Spino pulled his patrol car behind Deputy Fabiano’s to offer backup, if needed. It was.
As Deputy Fabiano commanded the van’s driver to get out of the vehicle, Officer Spino heard gunfire and saw “flashes” of light. He saw Deputy Fabiano fall to the ground. Officer Spino returned fire as he positioned himself to aid the fallen deputy. The gunman ran off.
This community, which rightfully honored the sacrifice of Deputy Fabiano, shouldn’t overlook the heroism and service of Officer Spino who put himself in danger to help the wounded deputy and attempt to capture the assailant. It was Officer Spino who chose to pull in behind Deputy Fabiano -- something police officers routinely do -- but the rest was anything but routine. It was Officer Spino who witnessed the gunfire that struck down Deputy Fabiano. It was Officer Spino who tried in vain to assist the fallen deputy and who would later testify in court as the only eyewitness to this tragedy. It is Officer Spino who must live with the aftermath of these events in a way that no other person in this community can or will do.
Officer Spino has not sought any recognition but he was honored by the university at a ceremony keynoted by Chancellor Jack Keating, himself the son of a Seattle policeman. (It was Jack Keating who was shocked upon his arrival at Parkside to find that Chancellor Alan Guskin disarmed the police force in the 1970’s. He quickly and wisely reversed that ridiculousness and, hindsight being 20-20, think of what the consequences might have been had he not.)
Now that a Racine County jury has convicted Deputy Fabiano’s killer, it’s time that this community show its appreciation to Officer Spino who, like the slain officer, is a hero. We owe him no less.