GILBERT, Ariz. (KSAZ) - More than eight years ago, Gilbert Police officer Eric Shuhandler was gunned down while on the job. The suspect accused in his murder is still awaiting trial. Now, Shuhandler's daughter, who was just 12 at the time, spoke out about what the past eight years have been like, waiting to get justice for her father.
"I love you, even though you haven't been here for eight years," said Meredith Shuhandler, now 21 years old. She has the letters "ELS" tattooed on her. It stands for "Eric L. Shuhandler".
"I remember it was night when I found out," said Meredith.
That night, Officer Shulander was working the graveyard shift. During a traffic stop, Christopher Redondo was a passenger in the car driven by Daimen Irizary. Shulander learned there was a warrant for Redondo's arrest. As Shulander re-approached the car, he was shot in the face.
"I remember seeing my mom on the couch crying," said Meredith. For her, the details of that traumatic and life-changing night are fuzzy.
"I remember our school principal being there, and a bunch of other officers being there," said Meredith.
At 12 years of age, Meredith understood the risks of her fathers job, and that protecting and serving meant one could die doing so. Back then, Shuhandler had recently been switched to the graveyard shift. It was only going to be temporary, but that's news Meredith doesn't forget hearing.
"I remember talking to him saying 'that sounds a lot more dangerous. Maybe you shouldn't do that'," said Meredith.
Her worst fear -- losing her hero -- became the harshest reality she's ever had to face.
"He was very passionate about what he did," said Meredith. "He loved being a police officer."
Shuhandler's life was taken while protecting the streets, and eight years later, there is still a wait for closure: Christopher Redondo.
"Ultimately, if it takes much longer, I will say that the system has failed us," said Meredith. She did say, however, that right now, she understands, and she hopes her father can hear her message
"I hope that what I'm doing right now, you're proud, and that I love you, and that I miss you so much," said Meredith.
Meanwhile, Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg has released a statement on the matter.
"The family, friends, officers and civilian employees of the Gilbert Police Department, suffer the loss of Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler daily. Though it is frustrating to experience these long delays, we understand the importance of due process in the criminal justice system. The delays are necessary to ensure the presentation of facts and evidence is done correctly the first time."