HOUSTON – A somber day began just after sunrise Thursday when the casket of Houston police Sgt. Christopher Brewster was escorted to the church where mourners gathered for his funeral.
Investigators said Brewster was gunned down Saturday evening while confronting a domestic violence suspect. Brewster died after being taken to a hospital.
Here’s how Houston honored the fallen officer.
Firefighters were among those who stood along the Gulf Freeway as the procession escorting Brewster’s body to Grace Church, where the funeral was held.
Upon arrival, the hearse traveled under an American flag that was flying from the extended ladder of a fire engine. Brewster’s fellow officers saluted his flag-draped casket as it was brought into the church.
The chaplain of the Houston Police Department began Brewster’s funeral by reading the fallen officer’s obituary and service record, followed by his own recollections of Brewster. He said Brewster had a smile one could not forget, saying it was even a bit mischievous at times.
Houston police Chief Art Acevedo followed by recounting Brewster’s heroics the night he was shot. Acevedo said although Brewster was mortally wounded, he radioed a description of the gunman which allowed his fellow officers to stop the suspect.
“He has now saved the lives of untold people because of life and courage,” Acevedo said.
He then encouraged the officers in attendance to do their job but reminded them not to forget their humanity.
“Don’t let this job define who you are,” Acevedo said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner recounted a conversation he had with Brewster’s widow about the fallen officer’s love of planting fruit trees. He noted that those types of trees provide shade and help hold the ground together which he called a metaphor for Brewster’s life.
“He found his purpose, and he lived his purpose,” Turner said. “He did his job until the very last second.”
Turner also declared Thursday to be Sgt. Christopher Brewster Day in Houston, saying it will forever be his day.
“He was the epitome of the selfless service of a Houston police officer.”
Sgt. Justin Hays
Houston police Sgt. Justin Hays said he was lucky enough to count Brewster among his best friends ever since their time in the academy.
He recounted a time he and Brewster were getting yelled at by a homeowner during a call when Brewster noticed a diseased mango tree in the front yard. Hays said Brewster used his love of fruit trees to diffuse the situation and before he knew it, Brewster and the homeowner were talking about tree diseases.
Brewster’s lifelong friend J.J. Cole recounted growing up with the fallen officer who he said loved to roughhouse and play guitar.
“He was downright weird sometimes, but he was wonderfully weird,” Cole said, nothing that Brewster had a worm farm that he used to help keep his fruit trees healthy.
Cole also remembered when Brewster became a police officer and the great sense of responsibility he felt about the job.
“He had a deep reverence for what being a police officer meant,” Cole said. “He was damn good at it.”
After the funeral, hundreds of law enforcement officers from departments across the country assembled outside Grace Church to pay final honors to Brewster.
A corps of bagpipes and drums played as officers saluted Brewster’s flag-draped casket while it was escorted by the honor guard.
Mourners listened as the end-of-watch call was radioed by dispatchers and watched as members of the honor guard removed the flag from Brewster’s casket and folded it. Acevedo presented the flag to the fallen officer’s family. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick knelt has he presented a folded state flag to Brewster’s family, and Turner knelt as he presented a folded city flag. A member of the Police Department presented Brewster’s police uniform hat to the family.
A formation of HPD helicopters flew overhead followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
“Amazing Grace” was played on bagpipes as Brewster’s casket was loaded into the hearse and saluted.
A procession carried Brewster to his final resting place.