Funerals held for slain officer, bystander

Published On: Dec 29 2012 08:35:05 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 29 2012 11:17:01 PM CST

Dec. 29, 2012: A police officer who was shot at the end of a chase, and an innocent bystander who tried to help him, were laid to rest Saturday. Irika Sargent reports.

HOUSTON -

Two men shot and killed by a gunman Monday were laid to rest Saturday in separate ceremonies.

Sgt. Jimmie Norman, 53, was memorialized at Houston's First Baptist Church. Family, friends, and law enforcement agencies from across Texas were in attendance.

"He liked his job more than life itself. He took pride in it. He always tried to do what was right for the citizens," said Randy Dobbs, Norman's brother-in-law.

Norman was later laid to rest at Houston's Memorial Oaks Cemetery. At the same time, 20 miles away, Terry Taylor, 66, was also remembered.

Taylor was the owner of the car service shop where the shooting happened in Bellaire. His ceremony took place at Klein Funeral Home.

Both men were remembered Saturday as loving fathers, devoted husbands, and heroes to the community.

"Everyday there are citizens who step up. Mr. Taylor is a hero, and we honor him as well," Sheriff Adrian Garcia said.

Investigators said Norman, 53, was chasing Harlem Howard Lewis, 21, when they drove into the parking lot of a Maaco body shop at 5611 Bellaire Boulevard at Alder at 8:55 a.m. Monday. Witnesses said Lewis got out of his vehicle and began firing shots.

A witness said Norman, a 24-year-veteran of the force, approached Lewis' car in an effort to get him to surrender. But within seconds, police said the Lewis pulled a gun and opened fire on Norman.

Taylor, the owner of the body shop, who loved ones said walked out of his shop to help the officer, was fatally shot in the head by Lewis at close range. Police said he died instantly.

Family members said Taylor was a retired Army vet, a married father and a new grandfather.

Norman, a married father of two, was taken to Ben Taub Hospital, where he died a short time later. He did not exchange gunfire with the suspect, HPD said.

"The saddest thing is that (Officer Norman) didn't even get an opportunity to pull his weapon and defend himself. That's how fast it all happened," said John Cannon with the Houston Police Department.

Houston police said Lewis fired at responding Bellaire police officers, and those officers returned fire. Lewis was wounded and ran off, but was found behind a nearby business. Investigators said a gun was recovered from the scene.

Lewis was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital in critical but stable condition. Doctors said he is expected to survive.

"He pretty much at close-bank range murdered a Bellaire police officer and murdered an innocent bystander who emerged from the shop," Cannon said.

The case is death-penalty eligible. Incoming District Attorney Mike Anderson, who will be sworn into office on Jan. 1, said he plans to try the case himself. On Friday, Anderson said he will consider upgrading the murder charge for Taylor's death to capital murder.

Norman was the first Bellaire police officer to be killed in the line of duty. He was promoted to sergeant from corporal after his death. He qualified for the promotion during a competitive process held in the fall.

Lewis is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 2, if he's out of the hospital by then.

Bellaire police said they were happy that Anderson will take the reigns in court.

"He's always been a supporter of the police department of Bellaire," Assistant Chief Michal Leal said. "We feel honored that he has decided to take on this case himself."

A trust fund has been set up for Norman's family. Donations to the "Jimmie Norman Trust Fund" may be made at Prosperity Bank at 5123 Bellaire Boulevard.

The 100 Club said it is also providing financial assistance to Norman's family.

Gallery

Photos: Officer, bystander shot

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