NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY - It's been more than a month since a New Bern police officer was fatally shot in the line of duty. But his memory lives on through his grieving mother, who calls him simply "a wonderful son."
In a sit-down interview with NewsChannel 12, Stacey Thalmann discussed the untimely death of 22-year-old Alexander Thalmann.
"I lost my only son. I lost my only child, a child I spent seven years trying to adopt... find," said Stacey. "He was a wonderful son. He is a wonderful son."
Officer Thalmann was on routine patrol in the Craven Terrace area on the night of March 28. That was when he stopped a man for riding a bicycle with no lights while on a public street, said investigators.
But that man, 35-year-old Bryan Augustus Stallings, had drugs on him and ran from Thalmann, according to the SBI. Thalmann gave chase, but Stallings shot the officer in the face, investigators said.
Thalmann died on March 31 at Vidant Medical Center.
"I knew the minute I walked into Alex's room that I wasn't bringing him home," said Stacey.
Stacey told NewsChannel 12 Thalmann loved every minute of being a police officer.
"He trusted people and he believed in people," Stacey recalled. "He loved people, all people."
Thalmann joined the New Bern Police Department in August 2013. Despite his short time with the force, he had a lot of supporters.
"When we were doing the funeral procession through New Bern, I was astonished at how many people turned out and the support that the community gave them, gave Alex. I want them to remember that," Stacey said.
Thalmann was a graduate of Washington High School and had served in the Marine Corps. But he had a lighter side too.
"Everybody who knew him will tell you he had a great sense of humor," Stacey said. "He had an understanding. He had a special way of looking at the world."
Stallings also died in the March 28 encounter. He was shot and killed by one of Thalmann's colleagues, Officer Justin R. Wester. The district attorney announced Thursday that Wester was justified in shooting Stallings.
"If Stallings had lived, I can't speak to that. I probably would have held a grudge. I would have gone to court to see he would have gone down for 'murder one' because that's what it was," Stacey said.
Stacey added that she hopes people will learn from this tragedy.
"I just want the people to understand that when the police are looking out for them, it's their job to look out for the police too," Stacey said. "I want a lot of good to come out of this. I don't want my son to have died for no reason."