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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tacoma officer remembered as protector, officer

Officer salute as the casket carrying the remains of slain Tacoma Police Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez passes them during a memorial service Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash. (Dean J. Koepfler / AP)
Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. – Thousands of uniformed officers and others paid tribute Friday to a slain Tacoma police officer, remembering him as a hero, a fierce protector and an officer who knew the dangers of his job but didn’t shy from his duties.

At a memorial service for Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, family members remembered the 45-year-old officer as a father, brother, fiance and colleague. They recalled his penchant for random acts of kindness, from buying strangers coffee to leaving generous tips to giving a homeless person the last $20 in his wallet.

Gutierrez, a 17-year veteran of the Tacoma Police Department who spent most of his career patrolling the city’s east side, was shot and killed Nov. 30 while responding to a domestic dispute. The suspected gunman was killed by a sheriff’s marksman, ending an 11-hour standoff.

“I would give everything to have one last hug,” one of his three daughters, Gabriella Cothran, told the audience through tears. “My father died doing what he loved and the hard part is that we know he would do it all over again if he had the chance to.”

Gutierrez was engaged to be married and his fiancee, Becky Humphrey, recalled how he tucked her into bed each night and held car doors open for her. She said he lived a life of honor and integrity but was also light-hearted and playful.

Earlier in the day, a pipe band led a funeral procession of law enforcement and fire vehicles from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, past the Tacoma police headquarters and into the Tacoma Dome. The flag-draped casket was then carried into the stadium, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported.

Many lined the streets as the hearse and Gutierrez’ patrol car passed.

Justin Murrell, a law enforcement officer who lives outside Graham, brought his two daughters to show them how the law enforcement community comes together during such a tragedy.

“I wanted them to see how powerful it can be when everyone comes together, especially in law enforcement,” he told the News Tribune.

During the service inside the Tacoma Dome, Antoinette Gutierrez described her brother as strong-willed but brutally honest.

He loved his job, performed his duties to the absolute best of his abilities and loved talking people down from the edge, she said.

She told the crowd: “When you leave here today, go home, hug your family, love your neighbor and give the gift of kindness and peace to someone.”