The controversy surrounding the Christmas Day shooting death of Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Darryn Leroy Robins was momentarily forgotten during a funeral service that celebrated the life of an outstanding lawman, a fun-loving prankster and a dedicated husband and father.
More than 1,200 law enforcement officials in full dress and friends and family gathered for a wrenching, two-hour eulogy at First Church of God to honor the 30-year-old deputy. Robins’ widow, Rosemary sat with their 18-month-old daughter, Melissa, who fidgeted with her bonnet and drank from her bottle, too young to understand the sadness at hand.
“Rest in peace. A job well done. We will never forget you,” said Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates, who along with many others praised Robins’ accomplishments during his eight years with the department.
The popular officer was shot by fellow Deputy Brian P. Scanlan as they were re-enacting an earlier traffic stop in a deserted parking lot behind a Lake Forest movie theater on Christmas Day 1993. Scanlan had a loaded gun during the drill and shot Robins in the face.
“It’s harder for us because it was an accident, you really can’t blame anyone,” said Deputy Gary Byerley, who worked with Robins for two years in Lake Forest. “I think that’s what Darryn would say. They (Robins and Scanlan) were really good friends.”
Robins, who lived in Torrance, “was the kind of man who enjoyed making others smile usually through a joke or good-natured prank,” Byerley said. Friends say Robins lived for his work and his family, but especially for his daughter Melissa, who he often referred to as his “bag of diamonds.”
“He was just always a joker always happy,” Byerley said. “He didn’t like crooks, but he was always fair. He’d cut somebody a break if he thought they deserved it.”
Gates described Robins as a an outstanding deputy who was always “striving to improve.”
“Just days before his death, Robins had addressed more than 1,400 school children through the department’s outreach program, telling them that he would always be available if they ever needed his advice,” Deputy Duane Turner said.
It seemed to be a calling for Robins, who would reinvigorate drug and gang talks by setting them to rap music, earning him the nickname Deputy “Rappin” Robins.
Sheriff Brad Gates mourned Robins in a written statement saying his death “is difficult for us to comprehend… He was truly an officer who cared, and his memory will not be forgotten in the community he served.”
Robins is survived by his wife, Rosemary, and their daughter, Melissa; his mother Mildred Fisher of Los Angeles; and three sisters, Venita Davis, Vanessa Ratliff and Laronda Magee.
Donations may be made to Project 999, c/o Orange Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Advisory Council, P.O. Box 241, Santa Ana, CA 92702. Please put Officer Robins’ name in the check’s memo section.