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Fallen officer's funeral unites police, community

December 29, 2012 8:37:37 PM PST
A community's salute to a fallen officer started with his funeral Saturday, but did not end at the cemetery.

Bellaire Police Department Sergeant Jimmie Norman ? shot to death after a car chase on Christmas Eve -- was laid to rest Saturday morning at Memorial Oaks Cemetery.

He was honored by those he loved, those he served and those he served with.

"It's a tough day for our city and it's a tough day for police officers everywhere," Bellaire Mayor Phil Nauert said.

He leaves behind a wife, two adult daughters -- one who works at the Bellaire Police Department -- and a community that considers him a hometown hero.

Norman was a 24-year law enforcement veteran and had received several honors, including being recognized by the FBI in 2009 for his role in ending a string of violent robberies. He received full police honors at the services.

On Christmas Eve, he became the first Bellaire officer to be killed in the line of duty when a suspect he was chasing shot and killed him.

"Evil didn't triumph, but good will triumph," Bellaire Mayor Phil Nauert said. "All too often we ask our police officers to help us make that difference."

Thousands of fellow police officers and volunteers escorted his body from the funeral home to the cemetery.

"Officers are the kind of people that will go ahead and endanger themselves for the community, but they want to know that if something happens to them, that their families are going to be taken care of," Bellaire PD Chief Byron Holloway said. "Today means as much for the family of Jimmie Norman as it does for police officers out there and their families to understand that they're truly appreciated."

Some of the officers worked with Sgt. Norman. Others know his family, but most of the men and women were strangers now united in sorrow.

"The best we can do is show our support by being here," said Rick Barajas with the Thin Blue Line Club. "Hopefully, just our presence can speak volumes for the family and let them know that they they're not alone, and unfortunately we've been to too many of these."

And as those police officers search for strength, they honor Sgt. Norman's legacy of service.

"I'm going to go out and do my job maybe even a little better in honor of Jimmie," Bellaire Sgt. Daniel Kerr said.

Friends, family and community members were invited to Bellaire City Hall to meet and share memories after the burial.

Officers say the shooting suspect -- 21-year old Harlem Lewis -- fired several shots at Sgt. Norman before he could retrieve his own pistol.

Terry Taylor, 66, owned the auto shop where the chase ended. He heard the gunshots and came outside to help Sgt. Norman. That's when he was also allegedly shot and killed by Lewis. Lewis has been charged in their murders.

Taylor was a retired Army lieutenant colonel and died performing one final act of bravery.

Taylor was also laid to rest Saturday, and the Bellaire Police Department enlisted the help of the Harris County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard to give Taylor full police honors at his service.

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Donations are being accepted to "The 100 Club Survivors Fund," which provides benefits to the dependents of Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers who lose their life in the line of duty.

Contributions are being accepted at:

100 Club Survivors Fund
5555 San Felipe ? Suite 520
Houston, TX 77056
Or at The 100 Club website: www.the100club.org.


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