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Family, fellow officers and friends bid farewell

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BOUNTIFUL — Officer Tony Russell stood alone under the hot afternoon sun, staring at the casket a few yards away.

His intense gaze was interrupted occasionally by hugs, handshakes and sympathetic pats on the back from fellow officers. Alone again, his focus returned to the casket holding his partner, Michael J. Dunman.

Dunman died after he was hit by a car while riding his bike on a State Street sidewalk Monday afternoon.

The 30-year-old Salt Lake bicycle patrol officer had just been laid to rest in the Bountiful City Cemetery, and Russell didn't seem to want to leave.

"I don't know how you say goodbye," Russell said as he stared ahead, his eyes covered by sunglasses. "It's a tough job."

Russell's partner for the past three months, Dunman had played in a golf tournament Monday morning and came into work late that afternoon. He was on his way to meet Russell and another bike officer when he was hit by a car. Russell heard the radio transmission describing the accident and was at the scene within 10 minutes.

"I just wished it wasn't him," Russell said. "I didn't want it to happen to anybody — we were good friends."

Russell described Dunman as "a great partner, treated people well, honest."

"He always talked of his kids," Russell added.

Those were some of the same sentiments echoed by family, fellow officers and friends at Dunman's funeral Friday morning in a packed White Pines LDS Chapel in Tooele.

Dunman's characteristics read like the Boy Scout Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent.

"Even though Mike made a lot of arrests, he never had a complaint filed against him," said Sgt. Jade Hurst, Dunman's supervisor on the patrol squad for the past year. "I think there is one word that sums him up best — integrity."

"He treated everybody with respect," said officer Brendon Kirkwood, a fellow bicycle officer. "Regardless if they were a fellow officer, a suspect or a victim — it didn't matter."

Dunman's brother, Will Dunman, described his brother as a "tremendous athlete" who "loved to learn."

"I have been associated with a lot of great people through my life, but none has met the greatness of my brother," Will Dunman said.

A deeply religious man, Dunman asked to be switched from narcotics to the bicycle patrol one year ago so he could spend more time with his wife, Sandi, and three daughters, Courtney, 6; Kaitlyn, 3; and Karissa, 1.

Courtney and Kaitlyn walked alongside their mother as she carried Karissa behind Dunman's casket, carried by eight fellow bicycle officers. Lines of uniformed police, six deep on one side, seven deep on the other, lined the long walkway from the Tooele chapel to the white hearse into which police lifted Dunman's casket.

Police closed down parts of I-80 and I-15 as hundreds of police cars and motorcycles inched toward Bountiful, followed by family and friends.

After a 21-gun salute at the cemetery, acting Salt Lake Police Chief Arthur "Mac" Connole presented Dunman's wife with a flag and small wooden box with three polished, 0.308 caliber rifle shells to commemorate the 21-gun salute.

After the graveside service, Connole said the four days since Dunman's death have been "terrible."

"The police department deals with death daily, but as tough as we think we are, when it's within our police family, no matter how strong we think we are, we really have a hard time with it."

The close-knit group of officers in Dunman's squad are like family, Connole said. With Dunman gone, Hurst said, those officers will now do their part to help Dunman's wife.

"We've committed to her as a squad to take care of her yard, her house," Hurst said. "Everything she needs, we're at her beck and call."

As Sandi Dunman and the remaining crowd at the cemetery gradually dispersed, Russell remained, still watching the casket. His forehead glistened slightly with sweat from the summer heat.

"Mike would probably just want us to get back out on our bikes and go to work," Russell said. "That's what Michael would do."


E-mail: djensen@desnews.com