Fallen Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen defined by his devotion

Devotion was what defined Chris Kilcullen — devotion to his career, his community and his family.

A 12-year Eugene Police Department veteran, Kilcullen, 44, was fatally shot April 22 during a traffic stop at the intersection of Highway 126 and 52nd Street in Springfield, becoming the department’s first officer to die in the line of duty in more than 70 years. @@Eugene Police Department[email protected]@

Thousands of friends, family and law enforcement officers paid tribute to Kilcullen in a memorial service April 29 at Matthew Knight Arena, with friends and family describing his sense of humor, his gregarious personality and his sterling record as an officer.

“Nobody likes to get stopped by a police officer, and nobody would like to admit that they make mistakes … Chris did it with grace, did it with style,” Eugene Municipal Court Judge Wayne Allen said. “They didn’t like the ticket, but they liked the guy who gave them the ticket.” @@Wayne Allen:[email protected]@

Kilcullen was integral to the creation of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team in 2008, and he also served in its Crisis Negotiation Team. He also earned more than 85 commendations during his tenure as an officer. @@Crisis Intervention Team:[email protected]@ @@Crisis Negotiation Team:[email protected]@

“He loved being a cop; he was perfect for the job,” EPD officer Erin Lewis said. “He wore a badge, but the badge didn’t define him.” @@[email protected]@

Everyone who spoke at the ceremony discussed the way Kilcullen made welcome those he interacted with, from a homeless man he took to Taco Bell before taking to the police station to people who would shake his hand after he gave them traffic tickets.

“For the community, you lost one of your finest officers,” said EPD Lt. Jennifer Bills, who was Kilcullen’s supervisor. “He was a native son of Eugene, and he loved the city and loved being a police officer.” @@Jennifer Bills:[email protected]@

The same level of devotion Kilcullen had with his career was also evident in his interactions with the community. He once walked in uniform for 24 hours in a Relay For Life event, still walking despite the blisters caused by his stiff boots. @@

“When Chris was dedicated to something, he didn’t jump in halfway — he jumped in all the way,” Lane County Circuit Court Judge Debra Vogt said. @@[email protected]@

That passion and dedication reflected in the relationships he created with the people around him.

“He made you feel better, just being in his presence,” Lewis said. “I would think of excuses to make him come into the office just to be in his presence.”

EPD Officer Scott Dillon joined the department at the same time as Kilcullen, and he discussed the bond the two officers had.

“Chris had a way of making all of his friends feel like his best friend,” Dillon said. “He would drop everything to help his best friends.” @@

Even those who didn’t know Kilcullen personally were astounded by the impact he had in the community. Brett Gilchrist, University Fellowship Church pastor, said though he never met Kilcullen, talking with his friends and family over the week between his death and the ceremony made him feel a void in his own life. @@

“I came away feeling like I missed out,” Gilchrist said in the eulogy.

None of Kilcullen’s relationships were stronger than the one he had with his family. He left behind a wife of nearly eight years, Kristie, a daughter, Katie Ann, and a stepdaughter, Sidney.

“He would touch the heart of everyone around him and make them feel like the most important person alive,” EPD Chief Pete Kerns said. “As a father he was adoring and present. Sidney and Katie, I think it’s safe to say we deeply grieve the absence of your father.” @@Pete Kerns:[email protected]@

Dillon recalled Kilcullen’s reaction after the birth of Katie, saying, “You could probably see his smile from space.”

In a letter read by family friend Lance McDonald, Kristie described what she faces now that she is without her husband.

“My husband gave the ultimate sacrifice so you can sleep peacefully tonight.” Kristie wrote. “I will never get to touch or smell my husband.”

McDonald also read a letter written by Sidney, in which she gave her adulation to a man who treated her as his own daughter.

“Chris was the best bonus dad ever,” Sidney wrote. “You could search the entire world and not find another guy like Chris.”

“He was the guy who would sleep on his kid’s floor so she wouldn’t be scared,” Sidney wrote. “He loved his job, he loved to help people, but most importantly, he loved his family.”

Adeline Bash contributed reporting to this story.

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Kenny Ocker

Kenny Ocker