Phil Rogers, Zach Christman
Hundreds of police officers, family and friends crowd a South Side church to pay tribute to fallen Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis.
Hundreds of police officers gathered to salute and honor Officer Cliff Lewis, shot and killed last week at a part-time security job.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy joined scores of friends, family and community members Thursday at United Missionary Baptist Church to pay their final respects.
"We mourn the death of Officer Lewis," Emanuel said through tears. "But we also celebrate and honor what he lived for. His courage and commitment to the city are examples to all of us."
"He was constantly exposed to high pressure situations," said McCarthy. "But Cliff the gentle giant was not one to get flustered. He knew good people were the overwhelming majority in every community and he was there for them."
Memories were shared and tears were shed in honor of the eight-year veteran of the force.
"It's very difficult because I feel like I lost a brother, and he can't be replaced," said Officer Calvin Jones, Lewis' partner.
Latrice Tucker wept as the flag-draped casket of her fiancé was carried inside the West Side Chicago church, but she told the congregation she wouldn't say goodbye. Instead she said, "see you later," as those were Lewis' last words to her.
As he was being eulogized, word came that other officers may have been questioning suspects.
Lewis, 41, was working his part-time job last Thursday at M&M Quick Foods in the Austin neighborhood when two masked men walked in to rob the store. Lewis was shot in the head and died.
Four days before his death the officer proposed to his longtime girlfriend on Christmas Day. He is survived by his fiance, young daughter and stepson.
On Wednesday officers from the 15th District went door-to-door asking for help from the community to find the person who killed Lewis. As of Thursday, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Lewis' killer had increased to $34,000.
"While he often confronted the worst in our city, he never lost his sense of optimism about Chicago and his family's future in our city," Emanuel said, pointing out Lewis' 81 commendations for work in some of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods.
"His easygoing nature didn't seem to fit with his imposing 6-5 build, I can say that as a man of 5-8," the mayor said. "He's a gentle giant. We know that he was a giant in more ways than one, with the strength of his commitment, the scope of his courage, the consistency of his character."
"There is no doubt that Officer Lewis was a purposeful man," said Quinn.
In lieu of flowers, family members request donations be made to PAWS Chicago in the name of Ofc. Clifton Lewis.
Donations to the 100 Club, which helps the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty, are also appreciated.