Friday, June 5, 2020
More from MPR


St. Paul police officer laid to rest
Larger view
Pallbearers carry Sgt. Jerry Vick's casket into Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in St. Paul Wednesday. (MPR Photo/Bianca Vazquez Toness)
Several thousand people, including hundreds of police officers from across the upper Midwest, were in St. Paul Wednesday to honor one of their own. Funeral services for St. Paul Police Sgt. Gerald Vick were held at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church on the city's east side. Vick was shot and killed in the line of duty last Friday.

St. Paul, Minn. — People started arriving for Jerry Vick's funeral more than two hours before the scheduled start. Under a gray sky, police cruisers, police motorcycles and other emergency vehicles flashed their red white and blue lights to honor Vick. A flag hung below two stretched out fire ladders in front of the church on Arcade St.

Below the flag, a procession of St. Paul police officers marched down the street as hundreds of other officers saluted. It was a sea of navy and powder blue.

During the service, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington told the crowded church the city's lights were a little dimmer because of Vick's death.

Vick was working undercover last Friday when he and his partner confronted two men outside of Erick's bar on St. Paul's East Side. Police say Vick pursued the men down an alley and was shot. Harry Evans, 32, of St. Paul, was charged with first degree murder. It's not clear whether Evans knew Vick was a police officer.

Harrington said Vick should be remembered for doing what it took to protect the public.

"Jerry knew that, despite the risks, that the point has to be walked or there would be more bloodshed, more grief and more innocent victims. Jerry, on the night he was killed, was walking the point," said Harrington. "He was out there to save lives, even if it meant that he had to give his own life in exchange."

Harrington said Vick would be happy being simply remembered as a great cop.

Vick received two medals of valor during his career. In 1990, he entered a burning building to rescue a child. In 1997, Vick earned the second medal for shooting and killing an armed suspect at a crime scene.

Most recently, Sgt. Vick was working with the department's vice squad. He took a particular interest in investigating child trafficking and child prostitution. Officer Paul Schnell said Vick was well known for his compassion for both criminals and victims.

"The people that most of us have a tendency to write off or disregard had a place with Jerry," said Schnell. "Whether it was a drug-addicted woman in prostitution, a homeless person or a chronic alcoholic, Jerry did his job. And more than that, he cared."

Others eulogized Vick's life away from the police force. The Rev. Mona Anderson is the pastor at Vick's family church, St. Mark's Evangelical Church in North St. Paul. She spoke on behalf of Vick's family.

Anderson said Vick was known as a practical joker and wonderful husband and friend to his wife, Connie. She said Vick loved his children deeply and was an avid supporter of their activities. His son, Clayton, 14, plays hockey. Amanda, 11, plays basketball and soccer.

Anderson said many may struggle with Vick's death. But she said everyone needs to remember how he lived.

"It is not the duration of one's life, but the fullness of it, that in the end matters most of all. Jerry lived his passion fully. And let us rejoice and be glad in the fact that his 41 years were filled with something that he found so very fulfilling," said Anderson.

Many of the people who attended the services didn't know Vick but wanted to honor the fallen officer. Jim Kielkopf was one of many who said they wanted to pay their respects.

"From my point of view, it's the least I can do out of all of the service that Sgt. Vick has done for myself and for other people on the east side of St. Paul," said Kielkopf. "It really is the least I can to to come here and pay my respects to a really heroic life."

After the service, hundreds of officers and friends started the eight-mile processional to Vick's final burial spot in North St. Paul. They walked past his boyhood home and two of the schools that he attended.

The St. Paul Police Federation has set up a memorial fund to help the Vick family.