Emotional Farewell for 1st Woman Officer Slain : Funeral: Tina Kerbrat is honored by her family and colleagues as a mother, friend and hero. She was killed in shooting Monday.
Los Angeles Patrol Officer Tina Kerbrat, the Police Department’s first female officer to die in the line of duty, was honored Friday before 4,000 mourners as a hero whose fatal shooting should humble a society unable to control its violence.
“We as a community have not done what is necessary to make our streets, our neighborhoods, our homes and our children safe,” said Archbishop Roger Mahony, who led Kerbrat’s funeral Mass at St. John Baptist de la Salle Catholic Church in Granada Hills.
“Until we do this for you,” said Mahony, addressing hundreds of uniformed officers from throughout Southern California, “we must bow in shame and ask for your forgiveness.”
An Oct. 5 graduate of the Police Academy with only four months’ experience in the field, Kerbrat, 34, was shot in the head with a .357 magnum revolver early Monday as she stopped to question two men who were drinking on a Sun Valley street. Her partner, veteran Officer Earl Valladares, returned fire, killing 32-year-old gunman Jose Amaya.
A grim but composed Valladares was among Kerbrat’s pallbearers Friday during a spectacle of ritualized grief and respect.
More than 200 motorcycles and nearly 1,000 police and civilian cars formed the procession that bore Kerbrat to her grave at San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Scores of brilliantly hued flower arrangements filled the church patio and an army of peace officers paid their final tributes.
Because Kerbrat’s husband, Tim, is a city firefighter, a section of the church was filled by firefighters in formal attire; Kerbrat’s colleagues at the North Hollywood station filled another section, many wearing black and white buttons saying, “Tina Kerbrat, Cop.” The North Hollywood officers included Patrolmen Jon Hurd and Richard Householder, his arm still in a sling, who were shot and wounded in a separate incident only days before Kerbrat’s death.
Still another section of pews held classmates from the Police Academy.
Dozens of other officers--their uniforms crisp, their badges covered by black mourning bands, their faces streaked with tears--lined the walls of the modern sanctuary while hundreds more stood in neat rows on the church’s lawn.
Despite the service’s grandeur and the dignitaries it drew--including Mayor Tom Bradley, Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, Fire Chief Donald Manning and several City Council members--Kerbrat was eulogized chiefly as a devoted wife and mother, sister and friend.
Kerbrat’s children sat on their father’s lap or near him throughout the funeral--Craig, 6, in a tiny black suit and red tie, and Nicole, 3, in a black velvet dress with lace collar and pink ribbons.
As the family entered the church with the casket, Nicole asked, “Where’s mommy?” During the Mass, she and her brother brought Mahony the wafers and wine used for Communion, each hugging a toy.
Other family included Kerbrat’s mother, Beverly, who at times appeared overcome by her grief; two sisters, and three brothers--including pallbearer Daniel Zapata, an Air Force officer.
Fire Department Chaplain Christian Van Liefde, who married the Kerbrats and baptized their children, recalled her life as a homemaker before entering the Police Academy last April and said, “This is her final gift to us--to recognize what is truly important in life.
“And maybe we’ll all go home tonight,” Van Liefde continued, “to hug our wife and husband and kids and parents, to hug them and recognize that’s our treasure.”
But Kerbrat was also recognized for leaving the shelter of her suburban home in Sylmar to become a “guardian angel in this city of plight,” as her neighbor and friend Robin Hart wrote in a poem.
Officer Donna Tuk remembered Kerbrat as an inspiration to academy classmates, someone who always had a smile and kind word during an often-grueling course.
“She took people under her wing, she could always make you laugh,” said Tuk, who smiled in spite of her tears.
During the funeral Mass, Los Angles Police Officer Kyle Tolliver sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” her rich voice filling the sanctuary.
Kerbrat was also remembered for her sense of adventure and humor.
Amateur stock car racers from the Saugus Speedway, where Kerbrat met her husband, recalled a night when Tim was working and Tina was eager to attend a race. Tim had taken the Kerbrats’ one working car, so Tina called friends Sandy and Chuck Phillips to give her a ride in their two-seat 280-Z.
“She crunched down on her knees in the back, laughing the whole way at how silly she must’ve looked,” Sandy Phillips said. “And when we got there, she almost fell out,” added Chuck Phillips. “She never took a smile off her face.”
Kerbrat received all the honors bestowed on fallen police--a funeral procession led by a riderless horse; the final salute and taps; four helicopters passing overhead, one turning away, leaving the others behind; and finally, the plaintive wail of bagpipes playing “Going Home” and “Amazing Grace.”
Academy classmate Tuk knew how Kerbrat would have reacted to all the splendor.
“She’d have a big smile on her face and be saying, ‘All this for me?’ ”