Detroit officer Loren Courts laid to rest as community pays tribute
The sun broke through the morning clouds on Monday, bringing some brightness to an otherwise gloomy day for the Detroit Police Department as it laid to rest one of its own, Officer Loren Courts.
The funeral of the five-year-old officer, who was ambushed and killed in the line of duty while responding to a call for reinforcements on July 6, was held at Greater Grace Temple and drew huge crowds of mourners. Nearly all of the 4,000 seats in the Northwest Detroit megachurch were packed with people from all walks of life: from community members to law enforcement officers from across the country. And among them were a sea of Detroit blue — hundreds of Detroit police officers — and Courts’ family, dressed in red and black.
While the scene outside the church was quiet and gloomy, inside the church there was no shortage of prayers and singing. Loved ones mourned Courts, but they also celebrated his life, his legacy and his sacrifice. The crowd was grateful, often shouting “thank God” and thank the courts.
All eyes were on the most important guests, his family, said Bishop Charles Ellis, pastor of Greater Grace Temple, who officiated at the memorial shortly before the casket was closed.
Courts’ parents came first to lay eyes on their youngest son. Her father, Larry Courts, a retired DPD officer who served for more than 30 years, lowered his head with a hard shake before reaching the coffin. Loren Courts’ mother, Lillian Courts, walked alongside her husband with her left hand resting on his back. Other members of the Courts family followed, including Loren’s older brother, Larry Courts Jr.
Cries of “Father! Father!” and “Thank You Jesus!” erupted from the crowd as the Courts family said their final goodbyes. Gospel hymns were sung.
Next are Loren Courts’ in-laws: his wife’s mother and grandmother.
And then Loren Courts’ wife, Kristine Courts, and the couple’s two children. His son Darian Courts, 15, and daughter, Devyn Courts, 9, were slowly escorted to the black coffin which held their father’s body.
Darian rested his head on his mother’s shoulder as the three of them comforted each other.
Loren Courts pastor, Bishop Lawrence J. London of the New Jerusalem Temple Missionary Baptist Church, said final blessings on the Courts body before the casket was closed. Kristine watched with grief, now with her head on her son’s shoulder.
Loren Courts died in the line of duty when he and his partner, Amanda Hudgens, were ambushed on July 6 after responding as backup to a “shots fired” call. Police say he was killed by a bullet fired from a Draco AK type semi-automatic pistol by 19-year-old Ehmani Davis of Eastpointe. Chief James White told a news conference he believed the teenager wanted to die in a suicide by a cop. Her family’s hearts were torn on that fateful night, her mother’s sister Lisa Littleton Cox said.
“It’s like a nightmare you can’t wake up from,” she said at her nephew’s memorial service.
Larry Courts Jr. described the relationship the siblings shared as akin to conjoined twins.
“We’ve been joined at the hip from when we were kids until now,” he said during the service.
Immediately after the casket was closed, Bishop Ellis ascended the pulpit with his wife, Crisette Ellis, who delivered the opening address.
“We are here to celebrate the life of a hero,” said the First Lady of Greater Grace during her welcome message to attendees.
Ellis returned to the podium after the order of service and presented the first musical performance, Yolanda L. Day singing “Safe In his Arms” by Vickie Winans.
Members of the public, including law enforcement, raised their hands, waving them in the air in praise and worship.
Loren Courts’ cousin, Crystal Smith, read his obituary, accompanied by sign language interpreters.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, City Council Speaker Mary Sheffield, Mayor Mike Duggan and other dignitaries attended the service.
In his remarks, Detroit Police Chief James White described an officer’s day as “not knowing if after you leave the house, you don’t know if you’re going to come back.”
“It breaks your heart to know…”, he paused to collect his emotions, then continued, “…to know that it didn’t go as planned that day”, he said of // Courts.
Before the eulogy, Ellis told Loren Courts’ family, “The hurt may never go away, but God will help you through the hurt.”
Bishop London compared the heroic act of Courts’ partner, covering the mortally wounded body of Loren Courts with his own as the gunman approached them still firing, with the way Christians cover themselves in blood of Christ and how it can save a person’s life. Hudgens sat in the crowded church with a Batman pin on her tie, in remembrance of her partner.
Ellis closed the service by giving thanks and asking for silence, for the Detroit Police Department’s solemn ritual for a deceased officer.
A sound sounds twice. And then the words: “All units on standby, unless you have priority.” The words repeated, followed by a call for badge #611 – Loren Courts’ badge number – and no response.
Jasmin Barmore was born and raised in the city of Detroit. She covers neighborhoods and communities across the city using her passion to give voice to the voiceless. You can reach her at [email protected] or by messaging her on Instagram or Twitter at @bjasminmare.