Fiancée of slain L.A. County Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer pays emotional tribute to lawman

A memorial for Los Angeles County Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer stands at the Palmdale sheriff's station.
L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was killed last month in what authorities described as an “ambush-type” shooting.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

The fiancée of slain Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer joined friends and family Thursday to say goodbye to the 30-year-old lawman, who was killed last month in what authorities described as an “ambush-style” shooting.

“I’m not supposed to be up here talking to you all,” said Brittany Lindsey, her voice trembling as she spoke to mourners that included hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered for the funeral service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels downtown. “I should be up here with Ryan holding hands as we prepare to say our vows.”

Four days before he was killed on Sept. 16, Clinkunbroomer had proposed to Lindsey. On Thursday, she recounted how, 30 minutes before he was shot, she texted him that they should tour wedding venues. He never texted back.


After learning of the shooting, Lindsey was escorted to his hospital bedside. As a nurse, Lindsey said, it felt surreal to be a family member of a patient.

“How do I go from planning a wedding to planning a funeral on the same day?” she said, speaking at a lectern in front of the deputy’s casket, draped in a white cloth, as a sea of uniformed officers looked on.

Clinkunbroomer was killed on the anniversary of the day they met, she said.

“I’m so thankful he was able to put this ring on my finger, because it was the happiest I had ever seen him,” Lindsey said as she was joined by Clinkunbroomer’s father, retired sheriff’s Lt. Mike Clinkunbroomer, and his mother, Kimberly.

“For 30 short years, we were blessed to have Ryan bless and enrich our lives,” Mike Clinkunbroomer said.

Ryan Clinkunbroomer had just left the Palmdale sheriff’s station about 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 when a gunman in another vehicle pulled up to his patrol car at a traffic light and shot him in the head, authorities said.

A passerby found the deputy unconscious in his vehicle at the intersection of Avenue Q and Sierra Highway, officials said. Fellow deputies took him to Antelope Valley Medical Center in Lancaster, where he died.


Thirty-six hours after the shooting, police arrested 29-year-old Kevin Cataneo Salazar as the only suspect in the shooting. His mother told The Times that he had been hospitalized for mental health issues and twice attempted suicide.

“Our deputies go out and serve this community every day, putting their lives on the line,” Sheriff Robert Luna said at the time of Cataneo Salazar’s arrest. “Ryan’s family will never see him again.”

After graduating from Cal State Northridge in 2014, Clinkunbroomer told his father he wanted to follow in his footsteps and join the Sheriff’s Department. When he officially joined eight years ago, he was the third generation in his family to do so.

For the last 18 months, Clinunbroomer worked as a field training officer, according to the department.

“It was clear to Kim and I that Ryan’s calling and passion again was working in patrol and training new deputies,” his father said.

“Today, we bid farewell to our firstborn son, Ryan,” the elder Clinkunbroomer said through tears. “A brother, a friend, a grandson, a partner and a fiancé to Brittany. We’re not saying goodbye, Ryan. But we’re saying thank you. I’m saying thank you Ryan for making me a better human being .... I’ll see you one day in heaven. You’re my hero.”


Luna described the young deputy as a courageous and kind man.

“You could say that Ryan was born into and raised on a tradition of service,” Luna said. “In fact, few families have given more to serve their community and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”

Clinkunbroomer’s father served in the Sheriff’s Department for 32 years and retired as a lieutenant in 2019. His mother worked in the department for 14 years as a matron lab technician. His grandfather, Allan Etzel, served in the department from 1963 through 1999 and retired as a captain.

Luna said he and Clinkunbroomer’s grandfather have a special relationship.

“He tells me how he feels and I love you for it. You’re an extraordinary man,” Luna said to Etzel, who was sitting in a pew nearby.

Clinkunbroomer’s great-grandfather, Aloysius Etzel, also served in the department, which totals over 86 years of unbroken service and 121 years combined, Luna said.

“That’s this family,” Luna said to a round of applause.

“Ryan was everything we look for in a deputy sheriff: integrity, a passion to serve, high emotional intelligence and a heart of a guardian. And, yes, when needed, an absolute warrior.”

Clinkunbroomer enjoyed being a big brother to his sister Katie and brother Chad growing up, several speakers said, and was passionate about the Miami Dolphins and the Dodgers.


Father Vaughn Winters from St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Clinkunbroomer’s childhood church, called him a man “raised in faith” who always talked about wanting to become a law enforcement officer.

“We have to take great care as Ryan did to not waste time, to use each and every day God has given us, to fulfill the calling he’s given to us and to love and care for those people around us — our family, our friends, our co-workers and strangers, all the people we encounter in our lives. Ryan utilized his time to the full. he did not know on September 16 he would be going home to the Lord,” Vaughn said.

Zachary Carlos said he knew Clinkunbroomer simply as “Clink,” who introduced himself when Carlos first joined the Sheriff’s Department.

“He was a role model to me as a young deputy and also as a person, because of how he carried himself,” Carlos said.

He read a quote usually attributed to Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

“I cried a lot over the last couple of weeks,” Carlos said. “I think most of us have. As I try to move forward, when I hear his name or see his face, I’m going to try and smile.”


Clinkunbroomer was laid to rest at a private cemetery service.