‘A man no one will ever hold a candle to’: Wife says of fallen Ohio detective at funeral


CLEVELAND, Ohio (NewsNation Now) — With a final salute outside the funeral home, Cleveland police officers and officers across Northeast Ohio began the process of saying goodbye to Detective James Skernivitz.

Skernivitz served the community for 22 years, garnering the respect of many, including U.S. Attorney General WIlliam Barr who attended the funeral along with city leaders.

“He died serving this city, and the country,” Barr shared. “Police are on deployment every day of their service.”

“Thank you for your sacrifice,” Barr said to Kristen and Skernivitz’s children.

The husband and father of three was killed September 3 while working undercover.

Honor guard officers carried his body, knowing he had walked alongside them at dozens of other police funerals, as he had also served with that unit for decades.

“We did so much together, it’s hard when we’re carrying one of our own especially one of the guys in our own unit,” said Sgt. Bo Diaz.

Friday, funeral services were held to honor him and his service to the community. The ceremony included a riderless horse, a 21-gun salute and more.

“He was one of the good ones,” Lt. Chuck Neidbalson told NewsNation affiliate WJW.

Lieutenant Niedbalson was Detective Skernivitz’s former partner. He spoke to WJW during calling hours at the funeral home.

“He’s really going to be missed,” Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin Williams said.

The funeral service at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse was private.

Chief Calvin Williams asked all law enforcement officers at Rocket Mortgage to give a round of applause to Skernivitz’s family so they could feel the community’s love and support.

Officers and friends called him “Skern.”

“I wanted to protect the city I grew up in and make it safe,” Skernivitz said in an application within the department, Chief Williams shared at the service.

“Jim is a man no one will ever hold a candle to,” his wife Kristen wrote in a letter that was read at the funeral.

“Death by violence is a tragic bond that we all share today,” she wrote. “Because of Jim I sure know the right way to live.”

“Skern loved his family and protected us from realizing the danger he faced every day,” Kristen wrote in a letter filled with anecdotes of her husband’s life.

Skernivitz’s service closed with a rifle volley and a last call.

“God speed, sir.”

NewsNation affiliate WJW contributed to this report

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