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Police gather for Dewey funeral

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. -- Law enforcement officers from hundreds of agencies gathered this morning for the funeral of Christopher L. Dewey, a Mahnomen County deputy sheriff who died Aug. 9 after being shot 18 months ago.

They began to fill the Living Word Christian Center parking lot in Brooklyn Park shortly after 7 a.m., four hours before the funeral service was to begin.

About 100 Dewey family members were to be joined by up to 2,000 law enforcement officers and others for the service, open to the public. Burial at Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis was to be private.

Dewey's sister-in-law, Hannah Bergman, was to deliver the eulogy and Mahnomen County Deputy Sheriff Chad Peterson was to share memories of his former law enforcement partner.

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 problems.

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.

The Rev. Jim Burgen of Flatirons was to deliver the funeral message and Chaplain M.C. Williams of the Fairplay, Colo., Police Department was to assist at the cemetery.

The police flavor of the service was to be evident throughout. Sgt. Tim Eggebraaten was to sing "I Can Only Imagine" and "Amazing Grace" as law enforcement officers filled the pews.

Living Word's pastor, the Rev. Mac Hammond, hosted the service. It was held in his church because a Dewey family member attends there, there is plenty of seating (2,700 in the sanctuary), the church has ample parking and it is involved police-support activities.

After the service, hundreds of law enforcement vehicles were to be part of a motorcade to the cemetery. People lining the streets could expect the motorcade to last 20 minutes.

In that motorcade were to be motorcycles ridden by member 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 to be all 20 members of the Mahnomen County sheriff's office. Officers from nearby counties were filling in today.

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 Association.

Dewey was born Feb. 9, 1983, in Cambridge, Minn., just north of the Twin Cities, and graduated from high school there in 2001. He was the oldest of five brothers; he also had two step-sisters.

He graduated from Hibbing, Minn., Community College in 2003 and joined the Mahnomen County Sheriff's Department in 2004. 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; step-father, Keith; father, Mark; step-mother, Jennifer; and siblings, Daniel, Philip, Henry, Douglas, Sara and Hana.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, among dignitaries attending the funeral, ordered al flags to be lowered to half staff at the state Capitol complex in honor of Dewey. Also at the funeral were to be Attorney General Lori Swanson, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion and Corrections Commissioner Joan Fabian.

Ironically, the man facing murder charges in the shooting comes from Anoka, not far from Living Word Christian Center. He is Thomas Lee Fairbanks.

A co-defendant in the shooting, Daniel Kurt Vernier, pleaded guilty to charges and was sentenced last September to two years in prison.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.