Remembering ‘Brewster’: COVID-19 hampers fundraising run recognizing family violence victims and memorializing the brave sergeant who gave his life in the line of duty

Detective Jennifer Ayala

Dec. 7, 2019. A date that will forever be ingrained into my memories, a date that will forever be ingrained into the lives of many, and a date forever engraved on the beautiful Houston Police Officer’s Memorial on Memorial Drive. The name is Christopher Brewster, although I only knew him as “Brewster.”

Recalling the chain of events that took place on that particularly dreadful Saturday are still very clearly etched into my memory. As I nonchalantly drove the streets of Houston, I remember the moment I saw that devastating Facebook update stating that a fellow Eastside officer had been shot and his condition still unknown. Male, female, nobody knew, and as I am assuming many others like me probably did, I held my breath waiting to hear which officer it was. As the questions flooded my entire being I wondered whether this colleague of mine would be okay or not, and I gradually felt the pit of my stomach sinking lower and lower.

Unfortunately, I did what was probably not very comforting to anyone at all – I continued to vigorously scroll and update my Facebook only to receive nothing that would ease the sickening pain going round and round in my stomach. Coincidentally, panic began to set in as the minutes rolled by and before I knew it I was home.

How had I gotten there? I unknowingly had one of those drives that I am sure many of you have experienced – one that you cannot remember doing, one that once you arrive to your destination you instantly felt lucky to have survived it.

And then came the phone call.

As if I hadn’t already felt that I was sick enough, my phone began to ring and my cop’s intuition alerted me that this particular phone call wasn’t bringing good news. Sure enough, when I finally mustered up the courage to see who had called me- it was a friend, coworker and someone that wouldn’t have called unless it was utterly important. If you can imagine the feeling, my heart immediately sank to a place it did not belong. It was hard to breathe.

Touching the name in order to call this person back reminded me of how terrible I was at dealing with anxiety and in an instant, I uttered the words, “Who was it?”

Any conversing from that point forward was forgotten. However, one thing I do remember. The name. “Brewster.”

I felt the weakness in my knees setting in and before I could say anything, I felt myself sinking into my living room couch. Any moments after that debilitating news are still unaccounted for, even as I desperately seek to find them as I recount the memories in order to write this.

Yes, I had seen and heard of others who gave their lives in the line of duty, but the death of Brewster created such an emptiness in my heart that I could not accept it. I was experiencing what I believe now to be shock. I can still feel the heavy tears that spilled from my eyes as I desperately tried to accept and digest the death of a fellow HPD officer, recently promoted sergeant.

Has it ever occurred to you that one day the things you did or saw yesterday will never come to mind again? That the people you love will one day just be gone? Do you ever ponder on the fact that you really never know when the last time you will do something will be? The lives we currently lead are rather uncertain and one day are all just gone.

The following day, as I was out for my usual therapeutic run, I found myself once again uneasy and most certainly heavy-hearted. I ran and ran, and as I felt the wind kiss my face, I sensed a strong feeling to do something in remembrance of “Brewster.” Christopher Brewster.

On that particular run, I made a decision. I was going to organize a run in remembrance of our beloved, fellow Houston Police Sergeant Christopher Brewster.

Had I ever organized any type of event before? No, Did I know where to start? Also, no. But I knew in my heart that this is what I was being led to do.

Did you know that the Houston Police Department employs over 5,300 officers?

It would be unrealistic to assume that we would all get to know one another on a personal level, and to be quite honest, I didn’t know Sgt. Brewster that well. Sure, I trained at Southeast where I met him and made several scenes with him but, unfortunately, I never got to know him on a more personal level.

Therefore, besides a quick passing in roll calls, walking by in the hallways of Southeast, and sharing the same classes at the academy along with the occasional, “Hey, how are you?” I didn’t really know this brave man. However, I did get to see how much of a hard worker he was, as well as how seriously he took his job as a police officer and sergeant. Christopher Brewster’s infectious smile will forever remain in those hallways of Southeast and any other place he graced with his presence.

I truly believe that we do not always pick why we are so compelled to help another human being and rather at times it is a complete stranger residing in our hearts so deeply it moves our entire soul. As a result, I decided I not only wanted to do something, I needed to do something. Undoubtedly, I knew this certainly was not going to ease the pain felt by his family, I knew it would not bring their beloved back, but if I could do something to help, I was diligently and with all of my heart going to do exactly that.

“The Sgt. Brewster Run against Domestic Violence” was organized both to remember “Brewster” and to raise awareness for family violence victims as well as my brothers and sisters putting their lives in danger while responding to those calls day in and day out. That’s what Sgt. Brewster was doing when he was tragically killed in the line of duty.

Additionally, all funds that are being raised by the selling of a customized T-shirt designed by State Line Designs will be gifted to the Brewster family, along with any generous donations.

Unluckily enough, due to COVID-19, the Sgt. Brewster Run against Domestic Violence has been postponed and at this time I am not seeking a new date. However, the T-shirt designed for the run will remain on sale for $30 and can be purchased through the original website: runsignup.com/race/tx/Houston/sgtbrewsterrunagainstdomesticviolence

If you would like to make a donation, this can be done on the same website, otherwise please email me at houstonremembrancerun@gmail.com if you have any other questions.

Christopher Brewster’s life was not lost in vain and his memory will never be forgotten.

Detective Ayala is assigned to the Special Victims Division/Adult Sex Crimes Unit. She met Chris Brewster when she was a rookie assigned to Southeast Patrol.