Friends remember Jason as dedicated Fox officer, a good-humored colleague who never met a stranger

Tom Kennedy, Editor

In his tribute to best friend Jason Knox, Senior Police Officer Michael Bruner described a dedicated, goal-oriented and fun-loving man in Houston blue who loved his family – not just wife Kiera and children Cooper and Eliza but also his HPD brothers and sisters.

With Senior Police Officer Michael Bruner (Midwest Differential Response Team) at the microphone are the pall bearers, left to right, Matt Cline –Texas Department of Public Safety–Assigned to the Violent Crimes Squad; Terry Oneill – Manchester (New Hampshire) Police Department; Chris Elder, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; behind Bruner but not in the picture is John Kosler, assigned to Midwest Robbery; Sgt. Lee Donovan, assigned to Special Victims; Sgt. Chris Chase, Northwest Patrol; and Senior Police Officer Paul Foster, assigned to Tactical Operations K9.

Besides Police Chief Art Acevedo, Bruner was one of three of those brothers who eulogized Knox with reflections and illustrative stories which were almost always tinged with humor.

Bruner mentored Knox after he first joined HPD eight years ago. The two soon learned they shared a lot in common – “such as cigars, guns and practical jokes, to name a few.”

A Fun-filled Friendship

“I don’t think the statute of limitations is up, so I won’t talk about flying Whataburger ketchup packages or toothpaste on the door handles of police cars.

“We also formed a friendship that continued outside of work. My wife and his wife became best friends or, as I called them, ‘partners in crime.’ Kiera and Jennifer would enjoy some wine, Jason and I cigars many nights at Jason’s house or at our house.

“I remember going to the hospital when Cooper was born. He was so happy when his son was born. He was truly a family man. . . My son was born a year later and they, too, are ‘partners in crime.’

“We vacation together with our love for going on cruises. On one cruise Kiera and I enjoyed one resort just a little too much and Jason was plain out of character trying to wrangle the two of us so we wouldn’t miss the bus to get back on the dock.

“Jason was always the one who would watch over us and make sure we didn’t get into too much trouble and always have fun at the same time.”

Jason Knox will forever be renowned for his successful efforts to restore vintage HPD police cruisers – one from the 90s, another from the 80s – both Chevrolet Caprices.

“When he began his quest to build vintage police cars, he was so excited with his first car. He told me all the plans for his car and what the car would be used for, tell me the details of getting the right paint from the right paint shop and the mechanics always had the details for the right car.

“Right after he finished the ‘96 car, the blue car, he was so happy that we were going to have a parade in front of our house. He and Cooper would drive in the parade.

“We had meals from McDonald’s and we had a whole lot of leftover French fries. We devised a plan that we would throw the French fries in the car.

“As soon as he came by, we threw the French fries at his open window. Cooper ducked because he didn’t know what was coming into the car. But Jason ever so calmly grabbed the French fries from the dashboard, looked directly at it and ate it like it had been there the whole day.”

Then came the saga of “Mr. Bones.” The details from Bruner:

“Jason had a sarcastic spark that we all knew Jason had. That was Jason. He loved a practical joke. Those of you that have known of Mr. Bones, who rode with him on Halloween. Mr. Bones was a plastic skeleton that Jason put in his shop every Halloween. He was dressed in a uniform and rode around with him.

“One weekend we were working an extra job at a local church and Jason had Mr. Bones in front seat of the Crown Vic he owned at the time. He got such a kick out of people going through the car to see Mr. Bones that he and I devised an evil plan that when people would come up one of us was in the back seat and we would shake the arm of Mr. Bones and scare everybody.

Family Forever!

“This worked too well when Jason conned Kiera to come look at Mr. Bones. When she came to look at Mr. Bones, I was in the back seat and moved the arm and I think the whole church heard Kiera scream.

“She was very pregnant with Eliza and I think we were very lucky she didn’t go into labor right then and there.

“We were always joking about buying the house behind them, taking the fence down and having a husbands’ house and a wives’ house and sending the kids back and forth. So, Kiera, I guess we have to start looking at houses now.

Bruner told one final story about the two consuming kolaches just before Bruner’s first ride in Fox. Jason told him he thought it would be okay to leave the air sick bag behind.

Then Knox’s airborne guest delivered the punchline to his best friend’s “best practical joke”:

“Kolaches are not good twice.”

Then Bruner turned very serious, directly addressing the Knox family.

“Mike and Helen, thank you for sharing Jason. Thank you for molding him into the man he was. So many of us have come here to celebrate. Thanks for teaching him to have the sense of humor he had and for being the man, the husband and father that he is.

“You lost Jason but the men standing here behind me are better because of him. And you have gained us as honorary sons. We will be here with you from here on out.

“Kiera, it has been my honor this week to be by your side and make sure that Jason is honored the way he deserved to be honored. Jennifer and I will not leave your side. We will look for that house where we can tear down the fence.

“We will be here with y’all to help raise these beautiful kids to be the caliber of kids that their forefather would want. We will be there for baseball games, babysitting, school events. You aren’t getting rid of us.”

There were two others who followed Bruner, Senior Police Officer Paul Foster, assigned to Tactical Operations K9, and Sgt. Lee Donovan, assigned to Special Victims.

They shared some Jason stories and continued to stress the extended family known as the Houston Police Department.

“I’ll never forget,” Foster said, “when Jason went to Fox. He got accepted and he was so excited. Two of his favorite things, flying and being a police officer. Jason and we began chasing criminals right off the bat together. Almost immediately we just clicked. Friendship made us a better team.

“Through Fox, you guys have always been vital to us,” the K9 officer averred. “You all are our eyes in the sky and you communicate to us. They see what we can’t.

“With Jason in the sky I personally was given an extra sense of security, a comfort because we’re family. He was outstanding at his job. . . There was a scene where Jason picked up on some footprints in the grass on a brand new camera.”

The pall bearers, on the left side are: Matt Cline – DPS, SPO Michael Bruner, Chris Elder – ATF and Sgt. Chris Chase. On the right side are HPD’s John Kosler, Terry Oneill, Manchester PD, SPO Paul Foster and Sgt. Lee Donovan.

Impressive Turnout

On another occasion a suspect dived into water to hide. But Jason spotted a nose sticking up out of the water – “sorta like finding a needle in a haystack,” Foster recalled.

“After each investigation he would land we would share with each other ‘attaboys’ over the phone what we saw from a different perspective. We would laugh and joke and would enjoy each other’s accomplishment.”

Sgt. Donavon also stressed family and said you could tell by the size of the crowd – with most of the mourners wearing masks. “Look around this room,” he said. “Look at all the people who came through right now. Here today even in this pandemic look at how Jason meant so much to so many people.

“I knew Jason like some of these guys back on Midwest patrol. I didn’t have the privilege of riding with him as a partner. We both came from smaller families and we were only children.

“We knew officers as family, 100 percent. . . We grew together, we started our families together and watched our children grow together.

“For those officers out there like me, now you know that we are family. I know that you, like me, have other officers you children call aunts and uncles, even though we’re not blood.

“That’s what this is. We are the definition of an extended family.”

Then Donavon told yet another funny story about his buddy – “one that is specific to me and my daughter. As part of a special program at his daughter’s school, Donavon and Knox made an appearance, with Jason cruising into the parking lot of the school, red lights and siren blaring on his 1990s vintage Caprice.

Jason showed the young kiddos the workings of the earlier-vintage patrol car, sounding the horn and operating the dashboard equipment. But there was the bright orange button, the emergency mechanism signaling the need for help, that attracted the attention of one four-year-old boy.

“The four-year-old pushed that button,” the sergeant recalled, suppressing a momentary laugh, and I could hear Jason saying, “No, no, no!”

“At that point the little precocious child has pushed the button and the mike and let go a laugh reminiscent of the Joker in the Joker movie.

“I would have given money to have been the dispatcher to have heard that emergency and to hear that laugh on the other side,” Donavon said.

Jason kept the cool. He spoke into the mike “and explained that we were entertaining children.”

“That was Jason. No matter what you needed, he was always there to help everyone. It didn’t matter if you were best friends or if you just met. It didn’t matter if you were another law enforcement agency.

“If you wore a badge, to Jason you were family. And Jason treated family well.”