AVONDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Family and friends of fallen Phoenix Police Ofc. Paul Rutherford gathered for his viewing and Mass on Wednesday and said goodbye to a hero.
The veteran officer was killed in the line of duty last week, hit by an SUV driver.
"He was extremely funny. He would just come up with little silly jokes,” said Cmdr. Ed DeCastro with the Phoenix Police Department, Maryvale Estrella Precinct.
He was a prankster, a protector, and a friend. Those who knew Ofc. Rutherford say he was all of these and more.
“He was the kind of guy, he just wanted to help," said DeCastro.
But to his family, he was "dad."
Rutherford's son Chris spoke publicly for the first time since his father's passing, to thank the community for their prayers and support.
“It’s been really hard and the community is making it a lot easier. The Phoenix Police Department is making it a lot easier. Thank you,” said the junior Rutherford.
What is never easy, is saying goodbye.
Rutherford's family was not alone in the task. At times, the line of people there to pay their respects stretched out the door of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Avondale.
DeCastro says it’s no surprise. The veteran officer was respected by many because of the way he lived his life.
“I just heard recently about a time where he helped a man that they had on a call, and he went back after work to help him. Nobody knew it. It was just something that he just did because he was just a good guy,” said DeCastro.
Rutherford's funeral will begin at 10 Thursday morning at Christ Church of the Valley followed immediately by a procession to his burial site at where he will be laid to rest with full honors.