CHICAGO (CBS) — A solemn scene as Chicago police officers carried the casket of one of their own.
Officer John Rivera was laid to rest Friday. He was shot and killed while off duty in River North.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas spoke to Rivera’s former partner who shared memories of his friend.
The sound of bagpipes is the sound Officer Nate Smith has already heard too many times for fallen officers. But now those bagpipes are honoring a man who was his partner.
“He was like a little brother to me,” Smith said. “As if he was my blood brother.”
Smith said Rivera was a happy guy, eager to learn.
“Didn’t have an ego a bout him.”
They used to open up about career goals while they patrolled the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.
“I know he wanted to be a detective, and that was really his goal. But outside of that also he said as long as he was making a difference, he was fine with his job.”
Dozens of people lined the streets near 112th and Ewing before the funeral. Friends said Rivera was the kind of guy who always looked out for other people. Police said in his final moments, he leaned over and shielded his girlfriend from gunfire.
“That just speaks volumes to who john was as a person,” Smith said, who remembered riding back with Rivera from Officer Samuel Jimenez’s funeral. Jimenez was killed after a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital.
“And we said to each other at that moment ‘how would you wanna go?’ We both said, as long as we go out being a hero, we’re OK with that.”
Smith and other officers now wear wristbands to honor Rivera. He said the CPD family is ready to help out Rivera’s family however they can.
“I hope that when people said to them, I hope they mean it. I hope they’re there for them not only in the days and weeks and months and years, that they’re still there for his family,” Smith said.
The Chicago Police Department also posted a heartfelt letter from Officer Smith on Twitter. He said Rivera was not just a partner but one of the best friends he ever had.