Department remembers slain Officer Courts as 'epitome of what a Detroit police officer should be'
Detroit — Slain Detroit police Officer Loren Courts was a natural leader, a "jokester," someone with a calming presence, and "the epitome of what a Detroit police officer should be."
That's how Courts, who was killed on duty July 6, was described by his fellow officers at a prayer vigil at the Police Department's 2nd Precinct on Friday. Hundreds from the community, friends, family and police officers gathered in the parking lot behind the station to pay tribute to Courts, 40, a five-year member of the force.
Courts was killed during an ambush outside the shuttered Desire Unisex Salon on Joy Road near Marlowe Street on Detroit's west side. Courts and his partner, Amanda Hudgens, were responding to a 911 call about a man firing shots out of the window of his apartment above the former salon.
Police said Ehmani Davis, 19, opened fire on the officers. A bullet struck Courts in the neck while he sat in the cruiser. Davis was killed by police at the scene.
Friday's vigil was mournful but also a celebration of Courts' life and career. It began with a prayer from a police chaplain and featured remarks from several officers as well as Courts' brother. Courts' father, Larry Courts Sr., is retired from DPD and was among the family members, including his wife and children, who sat behind a podium.
Officer Errol Franklin read a poem he wrote in Courts' honor called, "Officer Needs Assistance."
"He was special," 2nd Precinct Commander Michael Chambers said. "He was an exceptional officer and leader. He was an extremely hard worker and stood out when he was on the shift because of his maturity, his leadership and his knowledge.
"He was the person others leaned on and sought for advice. He had a calming influence within the precinct and on the street. I do not ever recall seeing him rattled or not on point.
"He was a consummate professional who was the epitome of what a Detroit police officer should be."
Detroit police Chief James White described Courts as a "jokester," a "beautiful, honorable man" and someone who brought "balance" to his fellow officers.
"Officer Courts is what the Detroit Police Department is made of. This is the type of officer that we all hope to be," White said. "If I could be half the chief that he was as a police officer, I will make an imprint on this city and this department that will make all of us proud."
A public viewing is scheduled for 12-8 p.m. Saturday and 3-9 p.m. Sunday at Greater Grace Temple, 23500 W. Seven Mile. A funeral is set for 11:30 a.m. Monday, with burial at Woodlawn Cemetery.
DPD members assured Courts' family that even after the initial stages of mourning have passed, the department will continue to be there to support them. Courts leaves behind his wife, Kristine, as well as a son and a daughter. And White vowed that although Courts' loss is a devastating loss for the department, it is not "defeated."
"In your son's honor, your brother's honor, your husband, your dad's honor, we are going to police these streets with integrity, courage, and we are not going to apologize for it," he said.
State House Rep. Stephanie Young told the audience and Courts' family that she and fellow legislators are focused on finding ways to keep illegally obtained guns off the streets.
“I just came here to let you know that we’re going after gun dealers who are doing the wrong things. We’re going after the people who are carrying these illegal weapons," she said. "We’re going after the folks that though they purchased them legally, gave them to somebody who should have never had it."
A federal grand jury has indicted a Detroit man accused of buying the gun used to kill Courts. Prosecutors say he bought the pistol for Davis in what authorities said was a straw purchase.
Aireona Smith of Detroit, who went through the police academy with Courts and works at another precinct, stayed in touch with Courts during their five years on the force. She said she found she could always turn to him for advice and support.
What stood out to her about her friend, she said, was his smile.
"Very sweet and charming," she said. "No matter what you needed, he's always there. Any advice you needed. He was like a big brother to me.
"He was loved. I'm going to miss him. I'm going to miss a great friend."
Staff Writer Robert Snell contributed.