Officer Eric Fagan has his priorities straight. Ask him and he will tell you that he puts God first in his life, followed by his family and his career with HPD. He also will point out that God goes very well in the mix.
As a city marshal, he was at an apartment complex on the Southeast side when a grandfather came running down a stairway with his grandbaby in his arms. “My baby is dead!” the man screamed and handed the child to Fagan.
“He put the baby in my arms,” the veteran officer recalled. “The first thing I did was say a prayer. I dropped to my knees and did CPR, using two fingers to the little girl’s chest. They called an ambulance. Before it got there she started breathing and crying.”
For his great effort, the department awarded Fagan a Life-Saving Award in 1988, as well as Officer of the Year honors.
Great Police Work
That same year the 100 Club of Greater Houston presented its Officer of the Year, recognizing Fagan for the life-saving event.
For a time Fagan kept up with the little girl and her grandfather but gradually lost track of them. He recalled the incident and stated firmly, “I give all the glory to God in that one.”
It wasn’t long after event that Fagan’s arrest of a capital murder suspect earned him the African American Police Officer of the Year award.
Let him tell the story, which happened in 1989:
“A man was changing tires near the Astrodome when two men stopped to rob him and shot and killed him. They shot him in the head.
“I got a call from my mother. My mother went to church with the mother of the suspect (the shooter) and was afraid that the police were going to kill her son. Mother called me and gave me the number of the friend the guy was staying with.
“I called him and told him there were roadblocks on I-10 and there was no way he was going to get away. He believed me. There wasn’t any roadblocks but I gave it a shot to see if he believed me. And he did. He was the shooter.”
“I told me to get in contact with me within 24 hours. An hour later he called me. I went to the apartment and picked him up.”
Like many HPD officers, Fagan takes action when people need help. Some years ago he was working security in a Section 8 apartment complex on the Southeast side. A fire broke out and many tenants lost everything, including their clothes.
Fagan proceeded to contact residents in the area to collect clothing and money to help the fire victims. The apartment manager contacted the department and the next thing you know AAPOL presented the officer with another Officer of the Year award.
“It’s been great in HPD,” Fagan said. “I’ve met a lot of good people. Ray Hunt has been a great friend to me. In 2013 my son Patrick died in a car accident in his first year at Stephen F. Austin (University).
Vision becomes Reality
“The Union was there for me at the time he was killed. Ray called me and arranged for a solo unit to escort my family around the whole time.”
Patrick was a devoted tennis player who participated in club sports at SFA. He visualized tennis as a key part of the recovery and life-changing process for teenagers who had drug- or gang-related problems. He saw it as a way to excel in a sport that could result in a college scholarship on a new road to success.
Fagan and his wife Jackie, a retired court reporter out of the court of Judge Mark Ellis, also have a daughter, Fallon, a medical student. The couple has partnered with a non-profit group that deals with the substance abuse treatment and counseling for adults and children. It’s called Unlimited Visions After Care Inc., aka UVA, headquartered in Houston.
Jackie Fagan said, “Patrick’s vision stresses the importance of giving back. He loved tennis and saw it as a way to help under-served children, to put them in condition to compete for scholarships and bring them out of poverty. That’s what Patrick’s project is all about, education and tennis. It was all inspired by him.”
Last September, UVA held the first-ever Patrick Wayne Fagan Classic Tennis Tournament to raise funds for the construction of a tennis court to be used to initiate Patrick’s vision. UVA already has the land and half the funding necessary for construction. The effort is known as “Patrick’s Project.”
The UVA brochure said, “Patrick was actively involved in the community through Top Teens of America, Inc., the Houston Police Department Blue Santa Program and the Child Developing Center, Inc., which was the Fagan Family Community Service Project.
“He enjoyed giving and gave unselfishly of himself to others. The quality of leadership possessed by Patrick earned him a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do after years of intense training. He enjoyed playing tennis and was a four-year varsity letterman and the recipient of the prestigious Pioneer Award. He was a member of USTA (United States Tennis Association) and played with Femi Thomas Tennis Pro International.”
The brochure details Patrick’s vision and quotes Marilyn Jones, the chief executive officer of UVA, as describing the idea as “something that we can make happen to honor his memory.”
Jones said a tennis court will be built at the Preston location to provide tennis lessons for these children and ultimately show them that through tennis, they can have opportunities for scholarships to receive an education and a better life.”
HPOU was a proud sponsor of the fund-raising tournament.
So far that career has lasted 29 years and seen Fagan be named Officer of the Year by three different groups, including the 100 Club of Greater Houston. He earned the Department’s Life-Saving Award and has numerous commendations in his personnel file.
Recently, Fagan was elected president of the African American Police Officers League (AAPOL) and advocates a compatible teamwork approach.
“We’re not fighting against each other,” Fagan said of AAPOL’s relationship with the Union. “We work together hand-in-hand. Ray Hunt is like a brother to me.”
And these two men of God have worked out a plan designed to communicate to Houston’s African American community that police officers are people, too. They believe the plan – initiated by Fagan – is the best possible solution to the jittery police-related racial strife resulting from the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.
Fagan said he is led by God to use common sense to foster better communications between Houston police officers and the communities they serve.
“We need to bridge the gap,” he told the Badge & Gun. “A lot of people don’t know the whole story. We know that we have a gap between the community and the police.”
In an effort to bring closure to that gap, Fagan is leading a group of HPD officers in uniform to the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, one of the city’s largest and most influential African American churches. This will happen on Sunday, Feb. 8.
“We will worship with them in our uniforms,” he explained. “We want to show that we are concerned just like they are and that we want to work on the problems together. Officers worship just like anybody else does. Not everybody’s bad.”
In fact, Fagan ranks as truly one of the good guys in HPD.
HPOU President Ray Hunt said, “Eric is a lifelong member of HPOU, a great Christian man, a great husband, father and police officer. I’m ecstatic that he was elected president of AAPOL.
He’s taking some African American HPD officers to an African American church. He’s taking some police officers. I’m going to attend and I’m inviting our board members to attend. My wife (Amy) will attend. We’re going to start doing this in several different churches.
“This is Eric’s idea and we’ve embraced this great idea. He has several churches lined up. We’ll all be attending in uniform.
Early HPD Marks
“I think it’s going to tell the community that we’re ordinary people. We’re God-fearing and we’re about being good fathers, mothers, husbands and wives and we’re about being good Christians.”
Hunt also commented on the improved working relationship between HPOU, AAPOL, as well as Organization of Spanish-Speaking Officers (OSSO) and the Law Enforcement Association of Asian Pacific (LEAAP).
The HPOU president recently extended special invitations to OSSO President Domingo Garcia and LEAAP President Jed Rose to attend the Union’s general membership meetings in the interest of becoming more closely knit. HPOU serves these groups as the majority bargaining agent in contract negotiations.
Fagan’s road to HPD began in his native town of Harrisburg, Louisiana, from where he moved to Houston with his family at age one. He was the son of a U. S. Postal worker and a nurse. He graduated from Sterling High School and then enrolled at Prairie View A&M, where he finished first in his class of Criminal Justice majors.
He then served two years as a welfare fraud investigator for the State of Texas. When he saw that HPD was hiring, he jumped at the opportunity, graduating in 1985 in Academy Class No. 118. Aside from spending a year as a Harris County deputy sheriff, Fagan has 29 years on the force.
He spent five years in the City Marshal’s Office under the renowned Marshal E. J. Stringfellow before putting in stints at Southeast, Beechnut, West Side, DARE, Recruiting and his current assignment in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center.
Fagan made his marks early in his career.