His father was a cop killed in the line of duty.
His younger brother died at age 19.
Placer County Sheriff’s Detective Michael David Davis Jr. understood all too well the fragility of life, family and friends recalled Tuesday. And so, he savored every moment of it.
“He always said that tomorrow wasn’t promised to us,” his wife, Jessica, said in a teary videotaped statement played during an elaborate funeral service in Roseville. “We did more in our eight years together than most people do in a lifetime.”
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Davis, 42, was gunned down in Auburn last month, 26 years to the day after his father perished in a helicopter crash during a police mission in Southern California. The shooting rampage, which began in a Motel 6 parking lot in Sacramento on Oct. 24, also killed Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver. Authorities have charged Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamontes and his wife, Janelle Marquez Monroy. Their motive remains unclear.
Wearing crisp dress uniforms with black bands across their badges, thousands of law enforcement men and women descended on Adventure Christian Church from across California on Tuesday morning to pay their respects to Davis. Officers representing a constellation of agencies large and small, from San Diego to North Tahoe, turned the parking lot into a sea of police cruisers, vans and motorcycles. U.S. Park Police rode to the church’s entrance on horseback. Canine members of Animal Assisted Crisis Response team, including a standard poodle named Muffin, appeared on leashes with their handlers.
As dignitaries including Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris sat in the front rows of the church, the service began with bagpipes, drums and a solemn procession led by the Placer County sheriff’s honor guard. The guard escorted the lawman’s casket, draped with an American flag, into a church sanctuary packed with more than 3,000 people. The officer’s wife, daughters Angelique and Samantha, and mother, Deborah, among other relatives, followed closely behind.
Two large video screens flashed photographs of Davis’ life, from boyhood to young fatherhood to a formal portrait of him in his sheriff’s uniform. Following an opening prayer, congregants listened to one of the officer’s favorite tunes, Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” on loudspeaker. The music brought many to tears.
Then, one by one, clergy, family members and colleagues described the man they knew as Mike.
Police work was “where his heart was,” said Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner. One of Davis’ aunts and an uncle worked for the department. His brother Jason is a sergeant on the force. Jessica Davis works there too, as an evidence technician.
Mike Davis was a model officer who had “zero complaints” from the public on his record and was known for his “respect, tact and empathy” toward those he served, Bonner said. When he died, he was a homicide detective in the Crimes Against Persons unit.
“Lots of families are doing better today because of Michael Davis,” said Bonner. He “fought for your peace, your tranquillity,” he told the crowd. “It was amazing, and we are blessed.”
Off duty, Davis was the one who “made everyone laugh” at family gatherings, sometimes sharing “a homicide detective’s humor” that was lost on some relatives. “He had great stories, a quick wit and no filter,” his brother Jason said with a smile.
Mike’s wife “was always on his lap, and he was always holding her,” Jason Davis said. At every opportunity, “he would start wrestling with all the kids and rile them up.” Photos pictured Davis with family on camping trips, around the Christmas tree, at 49ers games and in LA Dodgers gear.
Davis was just 17 years old when his father, for whom he was named, was killed while on assignment with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He had two younger brothers, Jason and Christopher. Michael Jr. instantly became “the protective big brother who helped raise us,” Jason Davis said.
When the two younger boys were troubled or woke from nightmares, “we went to Michael’s room” for comfort, he said. “He taught me to play baseball, and he always included us” in his group of older friends. “He was always coaching and teaching and making those around him better.”
When Christopher Davis was just 19 years old, he died in an accident in Riverside County.
More than 20 years later, in 1999, the two surviving brothers joined the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
“I worked alongside my hero, in the greatest profession in the world,” Jason recalled. “We were living a dream, working together, doing what our father had done.”
The brothers ended each conversation with an “I love you” and a hug, he said.
Jason Davis had just finished a graveyard shift on Oct. 24 when he was summoned back to work with word that a deputy had been shot. He reached the command post in Auburn to learn that the injured officer was his brother. “My body went numb,” he said.
“I knew he was gone, and it dawned on me that I had to tell my mom that another one of her sons was dead.”
Despite his family’s pain, Davis said, he “chose to forgive” the people who allegedly killed his big brother.
But, he added, “I hope both of you are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The service ended with the voice of a Placer County dispatcher bidding Michael David Davis Jr. goodbye for the final time.
“Though your work is done here, your honor and integrity will live on,” the voice said.
Outside, after the lawman’s casket had been placed into a hearse, helicopters circled overhead in “missing man formation.” Davis’ wife and other family members, on the arms of sheriff’s deputies, stepped into a white limousine. His comrades saluted, and the procession rolled slowly toward Newcastle Cemetery.
Call The Bee’s Cynthia Hubert, (916) 321-1082. Follow her on Twitter @Cynthia_Hubert. The Bee’s Marissa Lang contributed to this report.