Thousands of high school seniors across Central Texas are graduating but one Cedar Park High School senior had quite the unique experience.
At the 2017 Cedar Park graduation about a dozen Austin police officers reported for duty but it wasn’t their typical call. This calling started about 16 years ago.
Ryan Miller, an officer for the Austin Police Department says, “It's a big family, and it’s a big family reunion. Being here to show support for Mikayla is a big deal for me personally as well as for the other officers here.”
Just like any other proud parent at graduation, the officers anxiously awaited their special senior.
Mikayla Hunter is met with many sideline cheers from the officers. Then it’s time for pictures. But for Mikayla there was one officer missing in the picture: her dad.
Mikayla is the daughter of fallen APD officer Clinton Hunter. The officers said they know they can't replace her dad but they can fill in his spot plus some.
“Once you're part of the police family, you're always part of the family and this is kind of our way to show solidarity with her and stand in for her father who is obviously not able to be here with her,” Miller says.
Clinton Hunter was hit and killed during a vehicle pursuit back in 2001. He was setting out spike strips for a speeding vehicle when the suspect drove directly at him. Mikayla was just a three-year-old.
“When an officer falls in the line of duty, that's kind how we do what we do every day, we know if something happens to us, our colleagues will take care of our families,” Miller said.
While Mikayla's dad wasn't there to see her graduate, “It was crazy. I can't believe I actually graduated; I've been waiting for this for a while. I am really excited to move forward and take the next step.”
Mikayla says she knows now and forever, she will have a special family there for her. “That makes me feel so great that they would all come and do this for me, really shows the love and support police officers have for fallen officers children, I love it it's so great.”