COLUMBUS, Ga. – The family of a Columbus Police officer is speaking exclusively with News 3, 33 years after the officer’s death in the line of duty. Mary Benes still remembers March 11, 1984. It’s a day that revives painful memories of her brother’s last day as a Columbus Police officer.
Thomas “Spanky” Bowen was involved in a chase that day. The suspect crashed, and when he went to check on the suspect, Bowen was shot twice in the head and killed. He was only 26-years-old. Benes says growing up with her brother was an adventure. The two were born just 11 months apart. She says Officer Bowen made an impact not just on the Columbus community, but personally as well.
“I have a daughter and she’s 31 now,” Benes said. “When she was little…of course, most babies are born with blue eyes. And I said I hope your blue eyes don’t change because your Uncle Tommy had blue eyes.”
Benes reflected on some of the past memories involving her brother. One Columbus resident told her that Officer Bowen would drive by the resident’s neighborhood when they were out of town. Benes says Bowen’s impact extended from his kindness, something that’s often overlooked in police officers.
Benes says anyone in public service has a special calling on their life. She says their loved ones can only hope and pray that they come home at the end of the day. The man convicted of killing Officer Bowen was sentenced to life in prison back in 2009. Benes says her brother wanted to pursue meteorology as a kid. He left behind seven siblings and his parents when he died.