Eric Talley “cashed out of his 401k” to change careers in 2010, joining the Boulder Police Department while raising and home-schooling seven children with his wife.
Talley died Monday afternoon while responding to a call about shots being fired at a Boulder King Soopers grocery store. He was the first officer to arrive and was gunned down, one of 10 people killed.
Talley took his job as an officer “very seriously,” according to a statement released by his family.
Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jeremy Herko said Talley was his best friend and had lived just down the street from him until recently, when Talley moved to Boulder to cut down on the hour-long commute.
They met in 2010 at the police academy at the Community College of Aurora; Talley joined the Boulder Police Department that same year.
He said Talley switched from a lucrative six-figure job in information technology to law enforcement because of a friend’s tragic death.
“That kind of propelled him into law enforcement,” Herko said. “He cashed out of his 401k.”
He said he spoke or texted with Talley weekly and even reached out to him Monday as soon as the news broke of the shooting in Boulder.
“I sent him a text asking him if he was OK, and of course he never texted back,” Herko said, choking up. “That’s the life of a police officer.”
Homer Talley, Eric Talley’s father, said his son “took his job as a police officer very seriously,” according to a statement released to broadcast media.
But more than anything, Homer Talley said, his son loved his family — the youngest child is 7 years old. Herko said his friend was a “devout Catholic” and home-schooled his children with the help of his wife.
Talley was also a woodworker and loved playing board games, Herko said.
“They were good quality people,” Herko said of Talley and his family.
On Twitter, a woman who identified herself as Talley’s younger sister posted about how heartbroken she was.
“I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many. Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar,” she wrote.
Officer Eric Talley is my big brother. He died today in the Boulder shooting. My heart is broken. I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many. Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar. pic.twitter.com/tgt2DxPsqz
— Kirstin (@Roozersmom) March 23, 2021
Talley treated all people as real human beings, an attorney wrote on Facebook about his experience on a ridealong with Talley. He said the experience while he was in law school changed the way he viewed police officers.
“Officers catch a lot of hate, but Officer Talley was a good human being,” Edwin Hurwitz wrote. “My heart goes out to his family, friends, and colleagues.
According to the statement, Eric Talley was training to work as a drone operator because, his father said, he didn’t want his family to have to go through such a situation. Herko said Talley would often consult with him about what the Araphaoe County Sheriff’s Office was doing with drones.
Herko said he used to have a key to Talley’s house and once changed out the batteries in his alarm system when it went off when Talley was away on vacation. He said his friend bought a 15-passenger van so that he could take his large family on vacations.
Talley also was remembered as someone who cared for others — human and animal. In 2013, Talley was recognized by fellow officers for wading calf-deep into water to try and rescue a family of ducks that found themselves trapped in a drainage ditch, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
A procession of police and emergency vehicles escorted Talley’s body on Monday night.