CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. — A southeast Georgia police officer described as a "beloved" member of the force died on Thursday after a "courageous battle" with brain cancer at the age of 29, the Chatham County Police Department said.
The department said Sgt. Jacob Gililland died surrounded by family. He leaves behind his wife Melissa and their young daughter.
"Our hearts are broken," a Chatham County Police Department Facebook post said.
“The Chatham County Police Department and the people of Chatham County deserved a strong and healthy Sergeant Jacob Gililland patrolling and protecting our streets for many years to come. Cancer robbed us of that,” Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said.
He had been with the Chatham County department for about three years, and before that was with the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department for about three years.
Before that, he served four years in the U.S. Army.
"Not only was Sergeant Gililland a valuable member of our department, but he was a beloved one," the Chatham County department said. "There are many citizens and fellow officers who have wonderful stories and memories of the time he spent with them."
According to the department, he had fought brain cancer for more than two years.
"Sergeant Gililland and his family knew how much he was respected and loved, and that helped carry them through many difficult days," the department said.
Hadley promoted Gililland to the rank of sergeant on his final visit with him, a week before his death.
"Chief Hadley, along with the Chatham County Police Department Training Unit that Gililland served with, presented Gililland with a uniform shirt outfitted with a Sergeant’s badge and stripes. Sergeant Gililland was also presented his promotion certificate," the department said.
His wife requested an official department photo with his sergeant badge and stripes, a request Hadley approved and had the department produce by editing his existing department photo.