Slain Officer Remembered As ‘Gentle Giant,’ Devoted Father

CHICAGO (CBS) – The 41-year-old Chicago police officer who was fatally shot Thursday evening was described in glowing terms by grief-stricken admirers.

Clifton Lewis was pronounced dead at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday after he was shot at an Austin neighborhood convenience store where he was working off-duty as a security guard. Police say Lewis tried to prevent an armed robbery by two masked men.

Lewis, who lived in the West Side neighborhood, had only recently taken the side job, according to Henrietta Fountain, the grandmother of the officer’s 11-year-old daughter, Simone.

She told reporters that Lewis was a “workaholic” who loved being a Chicago police officer. He was engaged to be married, Fountain confirmed.

“All he thought about was his job and his daughter,” she told reporters outside Lewis’s West Side home.

“He was the best. He loved her completely and he would do anything for her, sometimes too much,” she said. “He was always there for her and the family.”

Lewis racked up 81 commendations during his eight-year tenure on the force. He was a member of the Austin District Tactical Unit.

Deputy Police Supt. Al Wysinger described Lewis as “a gentle giant” who had a “courageous heart.”

He “loved his family, loved this community,” Wysinger said during a Friday news conference to ask for the public’s help in solving the killing.

Fountain said she had left a message with Lewis earlier Thursday, saying he could pick up his daughter for the week and also pick up some Christmas gifts.

“I was surprised why he didn’t return the call. He usually returned the call right away,” she said.

Police called Lewis’s daughter after he was shot and arranged to have police take her and Fountain to the hospital. Instead, detectives showed up at their home to break the sad news, the grandmother said.

At the 15th District station where Lewis worked, the Chicago city flag came down, and the Gold Star flag of mourning went up, flying at half-staff.

On the Austin block where Lewis lived for the past couple of years, neighbors expressed sadness. Donald Page says he broke down in tears when he heard the news.

“I considered him like a son, so to speak,” Page told CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley. “I greeted him when he first moved on the block a couple of years ago. He seemed like a real nice guy. Then I found out he’s a police officer — that was even better for the neighborhood.”

“He was OK,” another neighbor, Derry Chambliss, said. “He walked his dogs, he spoke. I didn’t even know he was a cop for awhile, until I seen him in uniform.”

  • Andrew Petersen

    You stood watch over the Gates of Hades.

    May you find Peace inside the Gates of Heaven.

    R.I.P Officer.

  • sympathy to officer lewis

    my condolences to the family of officer clifton lewis family.hope they catch the killer[s].and let their fate judge by god.

  • Kem

    I feel bad for the officer’s mother. She works with me, and today was her first day of retirement. Instead of enjoying the first day of her retirement, she will be helping to plan her sons funeral. Very sad… My heart goes out to his family.

  • chicago

    Rest In Peace Officer Lewis.

  • Afro

    One of the good guys


    Anonymous said… The officer stood and faced God, which must always come to pass.

    He hoped his shoes were shinning, Just as brightly as his brass.

    “Step forward now, Officer, How shall I deal with you?

    Have you always turned the other cheek? To my church have you been true?”

    The officer squared his shoulder and said, “No, Lord, I guess I aint,

    Because those of us who carry badges can’t always be a saint. I’ve had to work most Sundays, And at times my talk was rough,

    And sometimes I’ve been violent Because the streets are tough.

    But I never took a penny That wasn’t mine to keep.

    Though I worked a lot of overtime, when the bills got too steep.

    And I never passed a cry for help Though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes, God forgive me, I’ve wept an unmanly tear.

    I know I don’t deserve a place among the people here.

    They never wanted me around except to calm their fear.

    If you’ve a place for me here, Lord, it needn’t be so grand. I never expected or had too much, But if you don’t…I’ll understand.”

    There was silence all around the throne, where the saints often trod.

    As the officer waited quietly for the judgment of his God.

    “Step forward now, Officer. You’ve borne your burdens well.

    Come walk a beat on heaven’s streets, You’ve done your time in Hell

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