Slain U.S. Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans was lauded for his dedication to country, love for his job and for a mischievous sense of humor as President Joe Biden and congressional leaders honored him during a memorial service Tuesday.
Evans is lying in honor in the United States Capitol Rotunda in a special tribute to the fallen officer. He was killed earlier this month in an attack near the Senate side of the Capitol building, where he and another officer were manning a barricade.
“He was defined by his dignity, his decency, his loyalty and his courage,” Biden said.
Biden, who noted that he has buried two of his children, said his prayer for the family was that one day the memory of Evans would bring a smile before it brings a tear to their eye.
“I promise you it’s going to come. It just takes a while. It takes a while, but when it comes, you’ll know because he’s still with you. He’s still in your heart,” Biden said.
Evans, 41, and another officer were struck on April 2 by a car driven by Noah Green, 25, who came out of the car with a knife and was shot to death by police. Investigators believe Green had been delusional and increasingly having suicidal thoughts.
Evans’ casket was placed in the Capitol Rotunda for the second such memorial ceremony this year for a force that has edged close to crisis in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Members of the National Guard lined the street and saluted as the hearse carrying Evans’ flag-draped casket entered the Capitol complex. His former colleagues gathered on the Capitol’s East Plaza Front while church bells rang in the distance. His family, including his two children, gathered to watch as his casket was carried up the Capitol steps.
“This is a group of men and women who’ve been through an overwhelming amount of trauma over the last few months,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who heads a spending committee that oversees the Capitol Police and has been investigating the response to the insurrection. “The loss of Officer Evans is yet another stark reminder of what our brothers and sisters in uniform risk every day to protect us. The honor of lying in state under the Capitol dome is befitting of this American hero.”
Lawmakers, family and members of the police force will be invited to pay their respects to Evans after the ceremony with Biden and congressional leaders. He will be only the sixth civilian to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who are not elected officials, judges or military leaders.
Evans, who had two young children, was an 18-year veteran of the force. He was remembered by colleagues and friends as a man with a sense of humor who loved baseball and golf.
Members of his family said in a statement through the police earlier this month that most important in his life were his two children, Logan and Abigail.
“His most cherished moments were those spent with them — building with Lego, having lightsaber duels, playing board games, doing arts and crafts, and recently finishing the Harry Potter series,” the family said. “He was always so eager to show how proud he was of everything they did.”
The family said Evans was proud of his job and his friendship with colleagues near the “North Barricade” of the Capitol complex was one of the best parts of it.
“We hold them in our hearts, as we know they acutely share our grief,” they said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on the Senate floor Monday evening that Evans was a “familiar and friendly face” at that barricade where he died, a gate that is frequently used by senators and staff. Durbin said the three deaths this year are an “incredible hardship” for the department and Congress owes them a debt that can never be repaid.
“Every day it is incumbent on those of us who work in this building to remember this officer, and to thank him, and the men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police who have given so much to keep us safe,” Durbin said.