Slain Detroit police officer Loren Courts laid to rest

Sarah Rahal George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — His voice shaking, Larry Courts Jr. pledged to ensure his slain brother, Detroit police Officer Loren Counts, isn't forgotten.

"We were best friends, conjoined at the hip," Larry Courts said during his brother's funeral Monday in Greater Grace Temple. "I will not be the same anymore but I will spend the rest of my life keeping his memory alive."

With the sound of the church's gospel choir filling the church, officers lined up in pairs to bid a final farewell to Loren Courts, who was shot to death July 6 when he and his partner were ambushed while responding to a 911 call reporting shots fired near Joy Road and Marlowe Street on Detroit's west side.

Courts lay in uniform in an open, white-lined casket near the church stage, flanked by floral arrangements, one that spelled out "Loren."

As thousands of mourners filed into the church, two members of the Detroit Police Honor Guard stood vigil over Courts’ casket, draped with an American flag, while the Greater Grace Temple Mass Choir sang in front of a large screen that played a video montage showing photographs of the officer and his family.

Kristine Courts, wife of Officer Loren Courts, and her daughter Devyn Courts, 9, watch as pallbearers carry the casket of her husband  to the hearse after his funeral at Greater Grace Temple on Monday.

Courts’ relatives greeted a line of mourners, embracing and dabbing their eyes with tissues. A group of police officers and Courts’ family stood and talked for several minutes before moving toward the casket, where they stood shoulder-to-shoulder, heads bowed.

Minutes later, four men unfurled the American flag, closed the casket and covered it with the banner, starting the service led by Greater Grace Bishop Charles H. Ellis III.

Detroit police Deputy Chief Chaplain Amy Camm sang a rendition of "Amazing Grace." 

Larry Courts said they always got a kick out of being "the L family."

Detroit Police Department officers wear the badge number of fallen officer Loren Courts during his funeral.

"The whole family' name started with L and it's something we took pride in," said Larry Courts, who is a Corrections officer in Lapeer. "I always told him to be safe, (Loren) would always respond with 'You be safe! You're the one that's inside, I'm outside.' "

Detroit police Chief James White said Courts made the run with his partner to the shots-fired call without hesitation. Courts, who was described as a jokester, "was Batman," White said. "And (fellow officers) did everything they could to save him."

"I know there are few words I can say to give you comfort as everyone mourns differently," White told attendees in the church. "Our heart breaks for you, it breaks for our department. I am blessed with the best police department in the United States of America.

"I pray every night that I never have to give this speech," the chief said. "In times like this, we feel that it's hopeless ... we have to rely on faith in these moments so that we can persevere."

Seconds after Courts and partner Amanda Hudgens of the 2nd Precinct arrived on the scene the evening of July 6, police said 19-year-old Ehmani Davis opened fire from inside his apartment above the shuttered Desire Hair Salon on Joy. Davis shot through the closed apartment window, and a bullet crashed through the police cruiser's windshield, hitting Courts in the neck, police said.

Officer Amanda Hudgens, center, who tried to save the life of her partner, Officer Loren Courts, after he was shot, stands outside with other officers at the end of his funeral.

More:Department remembers slain Officer Courts as 'epitome of what a Detroit police officer should be'

After Courts and Hudgens exited their squad car, Hudgens tried to save her partner's life, police officials said. She continued administering first aid even after Davis walked out of his apartment and approached her from behind, brandishing his Draco pistol, police said. 

Other officers at the scene fired multiple shots, killing Davis, police officials said.

More:Gun shop owner to worker who sold gun that killed Detroit cop: 'It's not your fault'

Second Precinct Cmdr. Michael Chambers said the department was blessed by Courts' calming nature.

Police officers from across the United States and Canada attended Monday's service, including contingents from New York City; Fort Worth; and Dallas, Texas; and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Also paying their respects were Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit City Council members. 

Speaking at the funeral, Duggan said Courts was “born to service.” His father, Larry, served in the Detroit Police Department for 31 years and his mother, Lillian, was a schoolteacher who worked with hearing-impaired children.

Duggan recalled receiving a call the night of July 6 with White saying one of the department's officers had been shot, choking up as he added the officer hadn't made it, despite efforts by staff at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital.

“Loren Courts is part of a truly outstanding Detroit Police Department,” Duggan said. “A department where, after he was ambushed in the most cowardly way, his partner Amanda Hudgens immediately rendered aid without regard to her own safety. And when she was approached by the shooter, her fellow officers had her back and immediately neutralized the threat. We have a truly extraordinary group of men and women in the Detroit Police Department.”

Larry Courts told Duggan that on the way to each night shift, his son would drive by the family's home in northwest Detroit to shine a light through their window.

“Loren Courts came through every day because family was the most important thing. You may not see it as a light through the window, but I do really believe you’ll feel it as a presence in your heart,” Duggan said.

Courts was born the second of five children on Oct. 7, 1981, and graduated from Redford High School in 1999.

He had a love of baseball and acrobatics, according to his obituary that was read Monday. His first job was at a local grocery store, then Foot Locker. He received an associate degree from ITT Technical Institute. 

While working at Costco, he met his wife, Kristine Courts, and the two married on June 11, 2011. They have two children, 15-year-old Darien and 9-year-old Devyn.

By 2017, he joined the Detroit Police Department, assigned to the 2nd precinct, and was later selected to be a part of the Special Operations Unit. 

A procession accompanied Courts' body to Woodlawn Cemetery on Woodward, where he was to be buried.

Courts, a five-year veteran of the department, was the 231st Detroit police officer to be killed in the line of duty since the department formed in 1865.