Funeral held for slain Chicago police officer

By Stacey Baca, Eric Horng, and Jessica D’Onofrio
ABC 7 News | View Story on ABC 7 News Online

January 5, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — Family, friends and colleagues gathered Thursday to say goodbye to Clifton Lewis, 41, a Chicago police officer who was killed while working off duty last week.

Lewis was gunned down at a West Side convenience store while working a side job as a security guard last Thursday. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Thursday night that police were questioning several people in connection with his death.  He did not call them suspects or persons of interest.

McCarthy said that police are looking at other robberies for connections.  He said no charges had been filed as of Thursday night.

At the funeral service, which got under way around 11 a.m. at United Missionary Baptist Church, Lewis was remembered as a loving father and a dedicated police officer. During an emotional eulogy, Officer Lewis’s fiancee, Tamara Latrice Tucker, did not say goodbye but only “I will see you later,” the last words Lewis said to her before leaving the house.

The two were engaged on Christmas Day, four days before Lewis was killed by two masked gunment during a robbery.

“We are not sharing the fact that Clifton is gone. We are sharing the fact that Clifton had a life, Clifton lived a life,” Tucker told the congregation. “And although we may not see him physically any more, that spirit that that man had will live with us forever and ever.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and Supt. McCarthy also spoke at the funeral.

“I promise that we will not tire until we find and hold those responsible for this senseless act,” said McCarthy.

“It was Lewis’ quiet humility, his comforting authority, his calm confidence that defined the officer, father and friend that we say goodbye to,” said Emanuel.  “We know that he was a giant in more ways than one: the strength of his commitment; the scope of his courage; the consistency of his character.”

“Cliff, a hero. He was in the streets on the West Side of Chicago, in Austin, making sure that we were safe, no matter how strifeful the neighborhood was,” said Quinn.

Following the service, the city of Chicago flag which draped Lewis’s casket was presented to his loved ones.  Officers lined the streets and the procession departer for Lewis’s final resting place.  There was a private burial at Mount Glenwood cemetery.

After the funeral, Supt. McCarthy declined immediate comment on where the hunt for the killers stands.

“I’m not going to talk about the investigation. Oh, we’re gonna get ’em,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy left Area 5 Headquarters around 9 p.m. Thursday night.  He said he has been at the headquarters every night since the shooting happened.  He said he has been talking with detectives and staying up-to-date on the investigation.

In life and in death, Officer Lewis was surrounded by his brothers and sisters in blue. A procession carried his casket into the church on the city’s West Side as his family stood grieving. They were joined in sadness by people who never even met the fallen officer, regular people who felt compelled to come to the public wake.

“Well, like I said, I came to pay my respects. And if he was a family member of mine, I would feel the same way. You know, it brings comfort to the family,” said mourner Corthea Macklin.

“I feel like I lost a brother, and he can’t be replaced by no one,” said Officer Calvin Jones, Lewis’s partner.

“I was probably one of the greatest guys I know,” said Rev. Kent Evans, Lewis’ friend, as he choked up.

Police say tips are still pouring in in the case, but none has panned out so far.

“They’ll get them. I’m pretty sure they’ll get them. They’ll get justice. Nobody can do something like that and get away with it,” said Bret House, Lewis’ friend.

Local politicians as well as hundreds of officers wearing buttons reading “In loving memory” all came to pay tribute to Lewis.

“As a public official, I should be here to show my support and my condolences to the family,” said Alderman James Balcer, 11th Ward.

Lewis’s friends focused on memories they will never forget.

“We used to walk his pit bull. He was crazy about his dog. You would never know he was a police officer. That’s how low-key he was, under the radar. I will miss him a lot,” said friend Jodie Madison.

Lewis’ colleagues called him a workaholic and a gentle giant who had a courageous heart. He received 81 commendations in his eight-year career with the Chicago Police Department.

A reward of more than $30,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

The 100 Club is an organization that helps the families of fallen police officers, firefighters, and paramedics.  They have a new public service announcement featuring several actors from the Chicago area. The club will help support Officer Lewis’s daughter, Simone, through college. So far this year, the 100 Club has given $400,000 for 22 kids in college of fallen public servants.

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