The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is more than just a race track and sporting venue. It is a vital part of the fabric of the community in this uniquely Midwestern metropolis.
Breann Leath was even more important, serving as an officer for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The 24-year-old was investigating a domestic violence incident on April 9, when she was gunned down by an assailant. Her death has been a shock to a city already in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leath’s funeral was held Thursday at IMS, in what’s believed to be the first time it had been the backdrop for such a somber event in its 110-year history. In the past, it has held memorial services for race drivers and other members of the racing community.
Members of the IMPD and additional law enforcement agencies completely lined the historic 2.5-mile oval with their squad cars, creating a stirring visual tribute to their fallen colleague.
Leath’s family, fellow officers and community were there to mourn her loss. Officers watched a stream of the funeral on their personal devices, then stood by their cars to salute Leath as her procession completed a ceremonial lap. Under normal circumstances, the funeral would take place in a closed-door arena, but these modifications were made to help maintain social distancing and limit the number of people in one place.
Leath was remembered as a loving and devoted mother to her son, an officer with genuine dedication and commitment to the community that echoed throughout the IMPD, and for having a smile that could light up a room.
Because of the ongoing CDC restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, no public participation was possible during the funeral services, and no public visitation took place.
“While a global pandemic may keep us physically separated today, the sun rose this morning on a city that has come together as one, united in admiration for our fallen hero,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett after removing his face mask, black and striped with a thin blue line. “Here at this track and across this city, her brothers and sisters in blue stand ready to keep watch over her legacy.”
Leath, a 2014 graduate of Southport High School, was a beat officer on the city’s east side. She was previously a member of the Indiana National Guard and worked as a corrections officer at the Indiana Women’s Prison.
“Breann accomplished and gave more in her 24 years than most could ever hope to in a lifetime,” Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said at the service, his hands protected by latex gloves, “wearing not one, not two, but three uniforms, all honorably.”
Following the funeral service at IMS, Leath was laid to rest at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.