Funeral Services Held for Felled Officer

East Point police Officer Christopher Betts

A composite sketch of the alleged hit-and-run driver.

Friends, family and fellow police officers gathered for a procession to the church in northwest Atlanta.

East Point police Officer James Weinmann

The casket was covered by an American flag.

Shannon Betts, at one point during the services, embraced Officer Weinmann.

Father Kevin Peek, who conducted the Betts wedding two years ago, also conducted the funeral.

Reported By: Jennifer Leslie
12/27/2002 6:17:31 PM

Funeral services for East Point police officer Christopher Betts, who was killed in the line of duty, were held Friday afternoon.

Friends, family and fellow police officers of 26-year-old Christopher Betts gathered for a procession from the East Point police department to the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in northwest Atlanta and the services began around 1 p.m.

The accident that claimed Officer Betts’ life happened about 1 a.m. early Sunday morning along Interstate 285. He died when scuffling with a suspect along the roadway's shoulder spilled on to the highway and into the path of oncoming traffic.

The suspect, 34-year-old Renard Banks, was also killed. Betts' partner -- James Weinmann -- was seriously injured in the incident.

Authorities said the suspect resisted arrest and the ensuing scuffle spilled out onto the right-hand lane of the busy highway.

Bryan Clanton, of the Georgia State Patrol, said, "When officers Betts and Weinmann arrived here on the scene, they found a man in the suspicious vehicle."

"At some point a fight broke out among the three of them. During that fight, they were hit by at least one and perhaps as many as three vehicles," Clanton said.

"[Betts] was struck...was thrown a good distance and also...possibly might have been hung on the vehicle for a little bit of the distance," Clanton said, "Officer Betts and the suspect were killed. Officer Weinmann was hurt badly."

’It’s closure...’
Officer Betts’ casket was covered by an American flag and was followed into the church by his wife, Shannon, and others.

Officer Weinmann, who was in a stretcher, was also present for the services. His father, Mike Weinmann said, “It’s closure for Jamie. Jamie and Chris go back quite a ways, about 10 years. They were in the military together…They were fellow canine dog handlers in the military. They just had a bond between the two. So it’s important for Jamie to be here today.”

Father Kevin Peek, who conducted the Betts wedding two years ago, also conducted the funeral. “They’re good friends of mine. I’ve known them for a couple of years now and it’s a great honor.”

During the services, he said, “The presence of so many here today, especially the members of law enforcement, family and fraternity shows how deeply the life of Christopher Betts affected us all, either directly or indirectly.”

Father Peek added that about a month ago, Officer Betts had asked him to baptise the couple’s 7-month old baby, Trenton. He said he would conduct the baby’s baptism whenever the family for ready.

Police Still Looking for Woman
Investigators said three vehicles -- including a van -- hit the men. Two of the cars stopped -- the third did not.

East Point police said they are looking for a mid-to-late 1980s brown Honda Accord with significant damage to the car's front end.

Officers said the driver is believed to be an African-American woman wearing a white lab coat. She was additionally described as possibly being in her mid-30s with shoulder-length hair.

Police said the woman stopped long enough to get out of her car, but didn't stay.

Bob Betts, the felled officer’s father, issued a plea for the woman to turn herself in, “To the person in the second vehicle that left the scene of the accident, we are pleading...that they turn themselves in so they can finish this investigation and so we can get closure as a family, so we can bury our son.”

Officials asked anyone with information about the woman to call the Georgia State Patrol tip line at (404) 624-6077.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in making a donation to a fund set up for Officer Betts and Officer Weinmann by the East Point police department, can do so at any Bank of America branch. The funds are set up in the names of both men.

Hundreds pay tribute to officer killed on I-285

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 12/27/02

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

Hundreds of people, including many in uniform, crowded an Atlanta church this afternoon to pay last respects to East Point Police Officer Christopher Betts.

Betts, 26, was killed about 1 a.m. Sunday when he and another officer were struck by several cars as they were struggling with a man along I-285 at Camp Creek Parkway.

Family members, law enforcement officers and other mourners packed Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Northside Drive for the nearly two-hour funeral Mass.

East Point Police Chief Frank Brown said some might wonder why Betts would choose such a dangerous profession. The reason, he said, was because people like Betts have to shine their light where it's needed the most.

The other officer, James Weinmann, suffered several broken bones in his legs and pelvis in the accident. Renard Banks, the man the officers struggled with, was killed.

Ben Gray/AJC

Ben Gray/AJC

Shannon Betts (top center) follows her husband's casket from the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Atlanta after a funeral service Friday afternoon. East Point Police Officer Christopher Betts was killed Sunday while responding to a call about a person walking on I-285.

East Point Police Officer James Weinmann is carried from the church after the funeral for friend and fellow officer Christopher Betts. Weinmann was injured responding to the call.

Ben Gray/AJC

Bita Honarvar/AJC

The shadows of police officers standing at attention fall on the parking lot of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Atlanta after the service.

Army Sgt. First Class Greg Gadson (background) of Fort Gillem and Army Sgt. First Class Kyle Kessler fold the flag off the casket of East Point Police Officer Christopher Betts Friday at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens.

Bita Honarvar/AJC

Bita Honarvar/AJC

Helicopters fly over the funeral of Officer Betts at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens Friday.

Army Sgt. First Class Greg Gadson of Fort Gillem prepares to give the flag to widow Shannon Betts Friday.

Comrades in blue mourn East Point cop

[ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 12/28/02 ]

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

There were few words among the men and women in uniform at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Friday. There were many quiet handshakes, and there were middle-aged officers embracing young officers about the age of Christopher R. Betts.

Betts, a 26-year-old East Point policeman, was killed in the line of duty Sunday. Police in black or brown or blue or gray, paramedics in khaki and military men and women in green helped fill the church for his funeral Mass on Friday.

Many of them arrived in a procession of 100 or more police vehicles, a single file of blue lights north through Atlanta on blocked-off interstates and then between the power poles and bare trees of Northside Drive.

Betts and his best friend on the East Point police force, James Weinmann, were trying to subdue a man who scuffled with them on I-285 early Sunday. A minivan driver saw them in the road too late and struck all three men. Another vehicle's driver is still being sought.

The man who fought police also died. Weinmann suffered broken bones in his legs and pelvis. He attended the funeral on a stretcher, raised into a sitting position and wearing his East Point uniform.

Betts, a six-year Army veteran who joined the East Point police two years ago, had settled in Newnan with his wife and 2-month-old son.

The Very Rev. Kevin Peek, pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Decatur, who conducted pre-marriage counseling for Betts and his wife, Shannon, told the mourners that Betts' life was important. "In a world where so many have chosen the wrong," he said, police officers like Betts stand up for the right.

"This is what Chris did, and what law enforcement officers all around the world do every time they put on the uniform -- they go forth to bear witness to the truth," Peek said.

The Georgia State Patrol on Friday appealed to the public to help find the driver of a brown Honda Accord believed involved in the collision. The patrol said the car, a model from the mid- to late 1980s, would have damage, including burgundy paint, on the front and driver's side. The driver was described as a black woman with shoulder-length hair who was wearing a smock or lab coat. Anyone with information about the car or driver or who saw the collision is asked to call 404-624-6077.