Drum still beats for Providence officer killed in off-duty collision

Officer Johnny Reposa and his sister Lorana Reposa-DeMedeiros

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Johnny Reposa was known as a “cop’s cop,” who watched his district closely but did not hesitate to rush somewhere else in the city if help was needed.

He made headlines a couple of times right before his last Christmas in 2012, when he and his partner Mark DeCecco found a missing autistic child. They would later return to Anissa Otero’s home with a new iPad to replace the one that had been stolen.

“That’s how she communicated,” Reposa’s sister Lorana Reposa-DeMedeiros said. “Because she was non-verbal, and my brother really felt strongly about replacing it for her.”

Reposa’s life ended while he was off-duty on a hot August day in 2013, at a Jamestown intersection.

“He was the closest and best friend I could ever have,” Reposa-DeMedeiros said.

After he died, she stepped into the fundraising world to honor her brother’s many moments of service, but especially the one involving Otero and her family.

“He just went through his life treating people the way he liked to be treated too,” she added.

More recently, Reposa-DeMedeiros put his drum on her back and joined the Providence Police Pipes and Drums Corps, founded nine years ago by a group of officers including Reposa, who was one of the first to keep a beat for the group.

“For me it’s healing,” his sister said during a recent practice. “Just as it might be for some of the guys. That’s probably why they asked me.”

The fundraising and her place in the corps will merge for an event on March 3 to once again raise money for The Autism Project.

“I hope he’s looking down and thinks I’m doing a good job,” she said.

Since she lost her brother, a number of fundraisers led by Reposa-DeMedeiros have brought in about $20,000 for the organization that helps families with autistic children.

“It just has made sense,” Reposa-DeMedeiros said. “It’s my way to keep him with me.”

The fundraiser, which will include music by the pipes and drums and Those Guys, a raffle and a buffet, is scheduled for Saturday, March 3 starting at 3 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Police hall on Sheridan Street. 

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