Empty chair to honor Huntsville police officer Keith Earle

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - On Wednesday, police officers and friends and family will be paying tribute to Keith Earle.

Earle died following a car accident in 2018 while on duty. There will now be a chair in his honor at his former precinct.

His name is now etched in stone, but Keith Earle is still remembered fondly around the Huntsville Police Department.

"Keith did not like a desk job at all," Huntsville police captain Jeffery Rice recalled. "Keith was the type of individual, he wanted to be out and about."

"As you can imagine, in that 26-year career, the number of lives he impacted, the number of families he impacted," Huntsville police lieutenant Michael Johnson said.

But it was an impact in March at Pulaski Pike and Grizzard Road that still resonates, the last time officer Earle was behind the wheel.

"There'll never be another Keith Earle," Capt. Rice said.

Earle crashed his SUV into another driver, spent two weeks in the hospital, and passed away on April 9th.

"Keith worked his entire career in north Huntsville, and in the north precinct. So, he was dedicated to this community, he was born and raised in this community," Capt. Rice said.

The police department then contacted a group in Texas known as Saving a Hero's Place. They build custom wooden chairs to remember fallen officers.

"It's not a chair you sit in," Lt. Johnson said.

The new chair will be placed in the roll call room, the place where officers get their assignments and interact before hitting the streets.

"And when you have an officer gone, that chair the individual sat in is now empty, it weighs on those officers," Lt. Johnson said.

Though it's a piece of furniture that'll never be used, officers hope it'll be a long-lasting tribute to Keith.

The new chair will be unveiled on Wednesday at noon at the north precinct. The other man involved in the crash with officer Earle, Aundra Jennings, broke his leg among other injuries.

In December, the city council voted to give Jennings $100,000 to settle his civil claim.

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