The 24th district Chicago police station unveiled a new memorial wall and held a private dedication ceremony to honor an Asian American officer whose accidental death in 2020 rocked the local Asian community.
Xu Meng, described by loved ones as a hardworking father and husband, died at age 36 from carbon monoxide poisoning in his home in Albany Park.
According to family and friends, exhaustion from enduring 12-hour shifts for 12 consecutive days may have caused him to forget to turn off his vehicle’s keyless ignition.
It was then at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that officers, like Meng, were called to serve amid the growing unrest and rising anti-Asian hate.
On Wednesday, Meng’s family and friends attended the unveiling of a new memorial wall that honors the memories of four officers, including Meng. The dedication ceremony was held in the afternoon at Rogers Park.
According to Asian American Law Enforcement Association President Henry Lai, the ceremony was attended in person by Meng’s wife and son while his in-laws virtually watched the event in China.
“He worked countless days, countless hours,” said John Pham, the vice president of the AALEA. “He passed away. Unfortunately, he didn’t get enough rest so we want people to be aware that we are there for them as an organization.”
Pham stressed the importance of being able to recognize when to rest or ask for help. “I think it’s very critical that people recognize that there are certain times in life while we’re working [that] it’s OK to ask for help and it’s OK to seek assistance or rest, if they need too,” said Pham.
Investigators found Meng’s car was still running inside the garage, resulting in dangerous levels of carbon monoxide accumulating inside the home.
Meng’s wife was also home during the incident but managed to narrowly survive. After spending a month recovering in the hospital, she focused her attention on their 7-year-old son.
The AALEA, which has around 500 members in the Midwest, has launched a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe to support Meng’s family.
Featured Image via Asian American Law Enforcement Association (AALEA)