x
Breaking News
More () »

Phoenix's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Phoenix, Arizona | 12NEWS.com

'One of the good ones': Family, friends, fellow officers remember Officer Paul Rutherford

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said the city and Phoenix Police Department lost a "true hero" when Officer Rutherford was killed in the line of duty.

PHOENIX — Phoenix police officer Paul Rutherford began each day with a kiss on his wife's head and the words, "Good morning, beautiful."

Throughout his funeral service Thursday, Rutherford was described as a loving and compassionate man who "loved his family more than anything else in the world."

He was a man who knew he would be a police officer since he was 5 years old, his father said.

"He will forever bring a smile to the face of officers fortunate enough to call him brother and friend," Pastor Bob Fesmire said as he read Rutherford's eulogy.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said the city and Phoenix Police Department lost a "true hero." Two words she has used often to describe Rutherford in the week since his death.

Rutherford died in the line of duty on March 21. He had been consoling a teen involved in a crash in his final moments.

RELATED: Phoenix officer killed in line of duty consoled teen in crash in his final moments 

Williams said Rutherford was a "good and honorable man" and everything you'd expect a police officer to be.

"We will forever mourn his loss," she said.

Before Thursday's funeral, Williams said her officers were devastated, but the support from the community has meant "a lot to us."

"Today isn't the end, today is a beginning," Williams said. "And it's the beginning of us paying tribute to Paul's memory and making sure he's never forgotten."

WATCH: Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams remembers fallen Officer Paul Rutherford

Commander Edward DeCastro, of the Maryvale precinct where Rutherford worked, described Rutherford as "one of the good ones."

DeCastro's words painted a picture of the "selfless" man and police officer Rutherford was, one, he said, who learned magic tricks in order to have a way to calm scared kids during distress calls.

“I truly believe we all have another guardian angel protecting us," he said.

A day before his funeral, hundreds lined up to pay their respects at a public visitation at in Avondale. More joined Rutherford's family, friends and fellow officers at the Christ’s Church of the Valley Thursday to pay tribute to the fallen officer.

An emotional Vince Gaines, who served with Rutherford in the military, said Rutherford was the best friend he had ever had.

“Paul was always the same," he said, "he always had a smile for you, he always had a hug for you.”

Gaines said Rutherford "elevated everyone around him."

His two sons, Reese and Chris Rutherford, also spoke at the funeral. Reese described his father as his best friend, protector, counselor and hero. To watch their full remarks head to our YouTube channel.

Rutherford is survived by his wife, two adult sons, a grandson, his father and mother, two brothers and a sister.

MORE: How to help fallen Phoenix police Officer Rutherford's family 

Rutherford's father Richard Rutherford said he had never been more proud as a father than the moment his son knew what kind of police officer he would be at the age of 5. Rutherford spent his entire 22-year career with the Phoenix Police Department as a patrol officer.

A day after his death, Chief Williams told 12 News that he could've been promoted but he "made the choice to remain as a first-line person." 

READ: 'He's a true hero': Phoenix police chief says department devastated by officer's death

Richard Rutherford said his son had been a person of courage since he was a young kid.

“The legacy of his courage should live on in us,” Richard Rutherford said.

Officer Rutherford also had a passion for martial arts. Sensi Drake Sass spoke Thursday. He described Rutherford as a warrior and said he was a “hero in my heart.”

Rutherford’s son, Reece, said his father would always be remembered for how loving and compassionate he was. His son Chris said his father “wore that uniform and badge with pride and attacked his job with care and compassion.”

Following the service, Rutherford’s body was escorted in procession to his final resting place at the Phoenix Memorial Park and Cemetery in Phoenix.