Fallen Denver officer Celena Hollis remembered one year after her death

Celena Hollis shot in Denver's City Park

DENVER - A new memorial to fallen Denver police officer Celena Hollis is taking shape at Denver's City Park.

Hollis was shot and killed one year ago while running to break-up a fight at the summer Jazz in the Park concert series. The concert series was nearly canceled after last year's deadly shooting. 

Sunday night, the mayor vowed to never surrender the park or the concert series to those who don't mean well.

The sounds of jazz once again filled the park Sunday night, one year after Hollis lost her life there.

"Celena Hollis was indeed, and still is in spirit, a hero to this community," said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

In a tribute to Hollis, fellow officers unveiled a sign in the place where she was shot and killed in the line of duty. It's the beginning of what will ultimately be a more permanent memorial.

The chief said he knew Hollis personally.

"She always had a smile. Whenever there was a challenge, she always had a solution. And she had a, 'We can make it happen' attitude," said Denver Police Chief Robert White.

Her killer, Rollin Oliver, fired four shots into a crowd while running from a fight. One of the bullets struck Hollis.

Oliver was in court this past Friday for sentencing. Despite what the judge called a sincere apology to the family and the community, Oliver received the maximum sentence allowed in his plea agreement, 26 years in prison for second degree murder.

The mayor addressed the dozens of officers who were in attendance for the memorial tribute.

"When you move forward to protect us, we will stand behind you," said Hancock. "And (we will) pray that God's spirit and power will be with you to protect you. We thank you."

Hollis' mom spoke publicly for first time since her daughter's death. She thanked the community.

"We just really want to say, 'Thank you,'" said Dorothy Hollis. "We may not have been able to do it before, but we felt all of your prayers and we just want to say, 'Thank you.' It has helped so much."

"People will always be able to come here and see the sacrifice that Celena made," said Joseph Unser, Hollis' friend and fellow officer. "Although my friend wasn't big on attention, and wouldn't want all this attention and fan fair -- I'm sure she's looking down on us right now and has a big smile on her face."

"We will not surrender this park or not one inch of this City to people who don't mean well to other folks who live in this City," said Hancock.

Plans for a more permanent memorial include a remembrance pathway, benches and a redesign of the parking lot here, which has been criticized in the past as not being user friendly.

Print this article Back to Top