WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on May 15 invited the family of slain police officer Ronil Singh to the White House for a visit and spent considerable time with them, taking pictures in the Oval Office and showing them the Lincoln bedroom. And, later during his remarks at the 38th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on the West Lawn of the Capitol, much to their surprise, he called them up on to the dais and gave them pride of place to deliver some remarks themselves.
Singh, 33, of Newman, California, was shot to death during a routine traffic stop on Christmas night last year by an undocumented immigrant.
During his speech, Trump in calling out the names of fallen police officers, killed in the line of duty and acknowledging their families present at the memorial, veering off the script on the teleprompter and ad-libbing as he often does, just after he had dwelled on the Singh’s life and career and praised the late officer for his dedication and courage, in an impromptu moment, called on all of the members of Singh’s family to come up on stage and say a few words.
“Here with us today is the family of California Police Officer Ronil Singh,” the President said to sustained applause from the audience, adding, “And I’ve gotten to know his family-- they’re an incredible family.
Trump said that “they just left the Oval Office. We took pictures. And it’s not an easy situation, what they’re going through. Frankly, they’re going through hell.”
Reading from his prepared script, he said, “Ronil came to this country legally in 2003 with the dream of earning the badge of an American police officer. That was always his dream. And that’s exactly what Ronil did-- he devoted his life to defending the laws of our country.”
Trump recalled, “On Christmas night, he took a picture in front of the family Christmas tree with his beautiful wife, their beloved son, and Sam, their loyal police dog. It’s a picture that all of us saw. I remember it so vividly. I’ll never forget it.”
“I didn’t know I’d get to know the family and greet the family and show the family the Lincoln bedroom at the White House. I didn’t know that. But it’s an extraordinary family. But I’ll never forget the picture,” he said.
Then continuing to describe the fateful night, Trump said, “Then, Corporal Singh headed out on duty — which he loved — to protect and to serve. You all know the story. Because hours later, he was gunned down and killed during a simple traffic stop.”
The President who has railed against undocumented immigrants and MS-13 members who have entered the U.S. illegally and killed innocent American citizens--which has been a staple of his rallies and his immigration policies that have called for a border wall--said that the person who had taken Singh’s life “was a vicious killer—this man that crossed into our country from the border just a little while before. A vicious killer that could’ve been kept out with border security, with the wall, with whatever the hell it takes. … Could’ve been kept out.”
“But we’re getting it there. We’re building the wall. We’re beefing up like you wouldn’t believe. The military has come into action. People are trying to come into our country illegally because our country is doing well,” Trump said.
He added, “They can’t come in illegally. They have to come in through the legal system. They have to come in through merit. They can’t come in like this killer came in — just rode across the border, went through every sign he could go through.”
In January, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of a Mexican national, Paulo Virgen Mendoza—alias Gustavo Perez Arriaga--in connection with the crime. The sheriff’s office said the alleged killer, 32, should have known Singh was a “sworn police officer, acting in the performance of his duties.”
The lawyer for the suspect on April 11 filed a plea of not guilty to the murder charge. The Modesto Bee newspaper reported at the time that the judge had scheduled the defendant to return to court May 24 for a pretrial hearing.
Trump said, “The ambushes and attacks on our police must end, and they must end right now. We believe that criminals who murder police officers should immediately, with trial, get the death penalty, but quickly. The trial should go fast. It’s got to be fair, but it has got to go fast. That’s happening, fair but fast.”
Trump them called on the slain officer’s wife, Anamika Singh, who was carrying her infant son Arnav Singh in her arms to stand and be recognized, after which he also introduced the rest of the family and urged them to come on up on stage.
He said, “The family is special. Ronil was special. And today we’re really grateful to be joined by Corporal Singh’s wife Anamika and their precious 10-month-old son Arnav. And also here are his great parents, Rohini and Veer, and his brother. Where is Reggie? His brother, Reggie. What a great family. Reggie, come up here, will you, please? Come on up. Come on.”
Trump was familiar with Reggie Singh, whom he had met on an earlier occasion, when the White House had invited Reggie Singh to participate in a border visit by Trump to make a case for a border wall.
When Reggie Singh was making his way up to the stage, the President joked, referring to the Secret Service, “They may let you up. I think so. I think Reggie is okay. Come on up, Reg.”
And then while the rest of Singh’s family followed Reggie Singh on to the stage, Trump reiterated their grief, saying, “Got to see it to understand what it’s all about. It’s hard to imagine what they’ve been through. Hard to imagine.”
Reggie Singh, during his brief remarks, said, “I am the brother of Corporal Ronil Singh. I’d like to thank every single law enforcement officer over here. What you guys go through — I heard stories from my brother.” And then turning toward Trump, he showered praise on the President, saying, “This man over here, the Singh family supports him. Whatever he is doing for the law enforcement, we support him. His team at the White House has reached out to us multiple times. Multiple times. I don’t think that ever happened before. Ever. This man is amazing, and my family supports him. Thank you.”
Trump, gushing over the high praise and thanking Reggie Singh, then called on a clearly overwhelmed and obviously reticent Anamika Singh to say a few words.
After quickly composing herself, in articulate remarks, Anamika Singh said, “Actually, I do want to say something. It’s something I didn’t get to do at the office. I actually want to thank you personally for — you’re the only one that actually reached out and said — gave your condolence to the family. And it actually means a lot to all of our law enforcement families that are here.”
“For the sacrifice my husband and his brothers in blue and sisters in blue have given,” she said. “So, I want to thank you for that. And we all — every family sitting out here wants justice for what happened to their loved ones. And that’s what I want for my husband.”
Trump in thanking her, called her remarks, “So beautiful. Such a beautiful family, “and assured them, “There will be justice. Justice will happen. We have the people, and we have the spirit, we have the mindset. We’re taking care of our law enforcement officers and we’re taking care of everybody.
“But we cannot imagine your pain — I mean, doing that — just doing that, Reggie, thank you very much — fathom what you’ve been through. But we pledge to you the unwavering love and support and devotion of this entire nation.”
Trump declared, “We have a great nation, and it’s getting better and better every day. It’s getting stronger. We’re not relying on outside forces and outside countries that don’t really care about us, other than to take advantage of our people and our system. And our nation is strong again and getting stronger every single minute.”
In December, Stanislaus County Sherriff Adam Christianson told reporters that the accused killer Arriaga, who had self-promoted his status as a member of the Sureno street gang, had two prior drunk driving convictions in Madera County.”
"This suspect, unlike Ron – who immigrated to this country lawfully and legally to pursue his lifelong career of public safety, public service and being a police officer – this suspect is in our country illegally. He doesn't belong here. He's a criminal," Sheriff Christianson said.