Memorial services held for Phoenix police officer killed in accident

PEORIA, Ariz. (FOX 10/AP) - Hundreds gathered at Christ's Church of the Valley in Peoria for funeral services for fallen Phoenix Police Officer Paul Rutherford, including community members, family and the Phoenix police chief.

It was a hero's salute, a tribute for an officer who will always be remembered.

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

The casket carrying Officer Rutherford was draped in an American flag. The 51-year-old father of two served for 23 years.

Phoenix police say Rutherford died last week when he was struck by a passing vehicle in west Phoenix.

The driver of the vehicle was a 40-year-old woman who stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. Police say officers determined she was not impaired.

Rutherford was a husband, father and grandfather, who Chief Williams says went above and beyond.

"Hero, dependable, courteous, kind, compassionate... he's the person who made the conscious choice to be a patrol officer," she said.

Officer Rutherford's commander at the Maryvale Estrella Mountain Precinct, Edward de Castro, was among those who spoke at the services.

He described Paul as a loyal friend, avid outdoorsman, dedicated karate teacher, respected veteran and officer.

"We grieve today because Paul is not standing next to us, but we should take comfort in knowing his spirit is standing over us and keeping us safe," he said.

It was written in his program by an unknown author -- "you can shed tears that he is gone or you can smile because he has lived -- knowing Paul made everyone smile.

"I'm just proud of Paul's service," Chief Williams said. "His last moments were spent consoling a 17-year old... he hears a call for service with his partner and he goes to answer that call for service. He's a true hero."

According to Chief Williams, this was the 39th death for the Phoenix Police Department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.