Flags to fly at half-staff for Louisville officer killed in line of duty

Officer struck Saturday by car while making traffic stop

​​​​​​​FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise until sunset on Wednesday, Dec. 22, in honor of Louisville Metro Police Department officer Zachary Cottongim, who died in the line of duty on Saturday.

Cottongim was struck by a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 64 in Jefferson County. He will be interred in Louisville on Wednesday.

Gov. Beshear encourages individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the commonwealth to join in this tribute. Flag status information is available at https://governor.ky.gov/flag-status.

Cottongim died after being hit by a driver on I-64 westbound near the Mellwood exit while investigating an abandoned car.

According to an obituary from Highlands Funeral Home, Cottongim was a graduate of Edmonson County High School.

His former principal, Brian Alexander, now superintendent, said the loss is heartbreaking.

“He was a good soul, he was one of those people you knew was a good soul deep down inside,” Alexander said. “He was kind to other people, he cared for other people.”

Cottongim’s former counselor, Stacy Raymer, said Cottongim always wanted to be a police officer, like his father.

“He had his goal set and he was going to pursue that goal and it was just a joy watching him do that,” she said.

Alexander said Cottongim was kind and always smiling. He remembers Cottongim working at his part-time job and always knowing Alexander’s order.

“I’m nobody special but he would remember those things about me and I felt like he’s done that,” Alexander said.

This year, Cottongim and his family adopted a special needs child through Angels in Arms, donating Christmas presents and other essentials.

Founder Mary Gahlinger said the organization was having trouble finding a sponsor, but the Cottongims were eager to help.

She said the toys were delivered Sunday.

“It’s a blessing to be that bridge and vessel for people like the Cottongims making a difference every day,” Gahlinger said. “Because it’s one life at a time. You change one life and it creates a domino effect.”

Raymer said as an officer and at home, Cottongim touched her life and others and will be deeply missed.

“I’m glad he knew I was proud of him, but it’s just such a loss,” she said. “I just know he was following his dream and he was a dad and a wonderful husband I’m sure, and I know he was a great brother and son.”

Funeral arrangements for Cottongim were announced Monday.

“It’s very difficult to find light at a time like this,” Chief Shields said. She said Cottongim’s loss was “heartbreaking” for the department.

Wednesday, December 22

10 a.m.  – Funeral
*Burial and graveside service to follow at Cave Hill Cemetery (701 Baxter Ave.)

Procession to Cave Hill Cemetery

From Southeast Christian Church:

  • Right on Blankenbaker Pkwy to I-64 West
  • I-64 West to Grinstead Dr. (Exit 8)
  • Left on Grinstread Dr. to Cave Hill Road–to the main entrance of the cemetery.

Sunday, community members, police, other first responders honored Cottongim during a procession as his body was taken to the funeral home.

Mayor Fischer has ordered flags on Metro Government Buildings to half-staff through Wednesday. The Big Four Bridge will be in blue on Tuesday and Wednesday in honor of Officer Cottongim.

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