Phoenix officer killed in accident remembered as kind, funny

March 28, 2019
1 of 10
The flag-draped casket of Phoenix Police Officer Paul T. Rutherford is escorted by his sons, Reece, right, and Chris, out of Christ's Church of the Valley, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Peoria, Ariz. Rutherford died last week when he was struck by a passing vehicle in west Phoenix. He was 51. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — A Phoenix police officer struck and killed by a vehicle while investigating a traffic accident was a remembered at his funeral Thursday as a pastor’s son who always wanted to be a cop.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego were among thousands inside and outside Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria to pay their respects to Police Officer Paul T. Rutherford.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and other members of the department said the 51-year-old father and grandfather was a kind and funny man, who learned how to perform magic tricks to entertain and calm children he encountered on service calls.

Vince Gaines, who served in the U.S. Air Force with Rutherford in the Philippines, recalled his best friend as a practical joker who also deeply loved his wife and family.

“He made you want to be a better man,” said Gaines. “He made you want to be a better husband, a better father. He elevated everyone around him.”

The driver of the vehicle that struck Rutherford last week was a 40-year-old woman who stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. Investigators determined she was not impaired.

Rutherford is survived by his wife, two sons and a grandson.