Dewey called hero at funeral
Family and friends remembered Christopher L.
Dewey as a hero.
The 27-year-old Mahnomen County deputy sheriff, who was shot 18 months
ago, was eulogized Wednesday as a person who was there when people
"After the shooting, people called Chris a hero, but I think he always
has been," his sister-in-law, Hannah Bergman, said in the deputy's
Patting his own chest, Dewey's sheriff's office partner, Chad Peterson,
said: "He will always be a hero here."
The Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park was packed with law
enforcement officers from around Minnesota and nearby states, 100 family
members and the public for the 68-minute funeral service.
A sobbing Bergman told 2,100 people in Living Word that "Chris showed me
that every day is an opportunity to serve others. ,,, Chris always put
others before himself, no matter what the sacrifice."
His final sacrifice came when Dewey died Aug. 9. He was shot while on
duty Feb. 18, 2009.
A photograph of Dewey in his deputy's uniform sat in front of the family
at the church, and the urn with his ashes was flanked by firefighter
helmets for department in which he served with a folded American flag
"I can hope that Chris' short legacy lives on in all that we do," said
Bergman, a Madison, Wis., women who is considering becoming a police
officer and at one time worked with Dewey in a restaurant.
Tears flowed freely during the service. Deputy Peterson tried to hold
them back, saying Dewey would not want tears.
"His whole life was a celebration..." Peterson said. "He would want us
to be joyous, and he would like us to be merry and he would like us to
The Dewey family's pastor from when he was taking rehabilitation in
Colorado told the congregation that the good guy sometimes dies.
"The wrong guy died," he said many people think about the Dewey
"You can't make sense out of this, it doesn't make sense," he added,
saying that Jesus preached that even good people have trouble.
"Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his brethren,"
Living Word's pastor, Mac Hammon, said, quoting from the Bible.
He urged the deputy's family and friends to move beyond their personal
grief. "We can't get stuck on that."
Burgen said Dewey's widow, Emily, does not think she is strong, but
relies on God for her strength. She wants others to know they also can
rely on God, Burgen added.
On Feb. 18, 2009, Dewey was shot once in the head and twice in the
stomach while investigating a report of a drunken driver in Mahnomen.
After the shooting, he suffered a brain hemorrhage and other medical
Dewey was hospitalized in early July for an infection and in mid-July
was placed on hospice care after a lung collapsed.
He underwent several surgeries and spent months at a Colorado
rehabilitation center. While there, the family received support from
Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Colo.
Burgen of Flatirons delivered the funeral message and Chaplain M.C.
Williams of the Fairplay, Colo., Police Department assisted at the
The police flavor of the service was evident throughout. Sgt. Tim
Eggebraaten of the Detroit Lakes Police Department sang "I Can Only
Imagine" and "Amazing Grace" as officers from throughout Minnesota and
nearby states packed the church.
The wife of a Brooklyn Park police officer sang the service's first
The service was held at Living Word because a Dewey family member
attends there, the church has ample parking, it is large (2,700 fit in
the sanctuary) and it is involved police-support activities.
After the service, hundreds of law enforcement vehicles were part of a
motorcade to the cemetery. Also in that motorcade were motorcycles
ridden by members of the Patriot Guard, a group that supports military
and law enforcement personnel who die in the line of duty.
Among hundreds at the service were all 20 members of the Mahnomen County
Sheriff's Department. Other law enforcement agencies filled in on
Mahnomen county commissioners also were in the church.
Visitation preceded the 11 a.m. funeral at the church, with a slide show
about Dewey's life. The service and other ceremonies, including a police
burial, were organized by the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial
His ashes were interred at Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis.
Dewey was born Feb. 9, 1983, in Cambridge, Minn., just north of the Twin
Cities, and graduated from high school there in 2001. He graduated from
Hibbing, Minn., Community College in 2003 and joined the Mahnomen County
Sheriff's Department the next year. He also was a volunteer firefighter
in Twin Lakes and Waubun.
His high school sweetheart, Emily Boulden, became his bride in 2007.
The avid hunter and outdoorsmen is survived by his wife; mother, Poppe;
father, Mark; and brothers and sisters, Daniel, Philip, Henry, Douglas,
Sara and Hana.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, among dignitaries who attended the funeral, ordered
al flags to be lowered to half staff at the state Capitol complex
Wednesday in honor of Dewey. Also at the funeral were Attorney General
Lori Swanson, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion and Corrections
Commissioner Joan Fabian.
Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, a governor candidate, also attended.
Ironically, the man facing murder charges in the shooting comes from
Anoka, not far from Living Word Christian Center. He is Thomas Lee
A co-defendant in the shooting, Daniel Kurt Vernier, pleaded guilty to
charges and was sentenced last September to two years in prison.
The service will be available on the Web at www.lwcc.org.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.