TAMPA (FOX 13) - A former police officer of 15 years held a screening of his new documentary "Fallen" at the Tampa Theatre on Wednesday night.
"It's just a passion project," said writer and director Thomas Marchese. "It kind of came about through a sense of survivor's guilt."
Cindy Roberts, the widow of Tampa Police Corporal Mike Roberts, who was killed in the line of duty in August 2009, introduced the film. Roberts said she had to pause the documentary's trailer four times before finishing it.
"It brought me back to August 24, 2009, the day my husband was buried, and I saw his casket similarly draped," said Roberts. "I had to keep pausing it, walking away from the room, and coming back in to try to gather myself and prepare for what might be the next portion of the video."
The documentary focuses on the impact an officer killed in the line of duty has on the community they served and their loved ones left behind.
Between 2009 and 2011, the number of on-duty officers who were killed rose by 42 percent, with the overall officer deaths increasing to more than 60 percent. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a decline in the statistic, but through 2014 and 2016, the U.S. saw a 56 percent increase in officers being fatally shot, according to the "Fallen" creators.
Marchese said his one goal in producing the film is to humanize officers. The film took Marchese nearly five years to write and direct. Three years into making the film, while he was still working as a police officer in central California, Marchese nearly lost his life after being stabbed multiple times on the job.
Roberts is the president of the West Central Florida chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), which is an organization that provides resources to families of fallen officers. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the chapter. A portion of the tickets sales benefited Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).
The film will premiere in theaters on September 8, with a weeklong showing at the AMC Westshore theater.