Riverside Officer Remembered as "Ideal Policeman"

"The emotions range from numbness to anger to fear that it happens to another one," a colleague said at Wednesday's memorial for Officer Michael Crain

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Thursday, Feb 14, 2013  |  Updated 2:38 AM EDT
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Thousands of mourners joined the family of Officer Michael Cain at Grove Community Church Wednesday for an emotional funeral service. Cain died after he was ambushed allegedly by Christopher Dorner on Feb. 7. Michelle Valles reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2013.

Michelle Valles

Thousands of mourners joined the family of Officer Michael Cain at Grove Community Church Wednesday for an emotional funeral service. Cain died after he was ambushed allegedly by Christopher Dorner on Feb. 7. Michelle Valles reports from Riverside for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2013.

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Slain Officer's Widow: Life "Seemed Like a Dream"

Regina Crain spoke about Sundays with her husband and his devotion to his family, which included attending ballet class with his daughter and learning about baseball so he could coach his son's team. Video from Feb. 13, 2013.
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The widow of a slain Riverside officer said life with her husband "seemed like a dream" when she shared memories of the man colleagues described at a memorial service Wednesday as a patient family man and the "ideal policeman."

Riverside Chief Sergio Diaz, military veterans, law enforcement officials and family members attended the memorial service Wednesday morning for Officer Michael Crain at Grove Community Church in Riverside. The 34-year-old father of two -- who was also a Marine and 11-year veteran of the Riverside Police Department -- was killed Thursday morning when he and a trainee officer were waiting at a stoplight in Riverside.

The Feb. 7 slaying is one of four connected to a former LAPD officer's revenge plot that targeted law enforcement officials and their families.

Speakers included Regina Crain, the officer's widow. She read the couple's wedding vows and shared memories of the family's weekend traditions.

"It just seemed like a dream," Regina Crain said of her husband. "I'm going to miss our weekends. Every Sunday morning I made breakfast. He loved his hashed browns in the morning. He wanted his bacon and eggs, but the hashed browns were most important.

"That's what I'm going to miss, things like that. That was our family bonding time. Family was just so important to him."

He attended ballet classes with his daughter and although Crain "never played a day of baseball in his life," he pledged to coach his son's youth team, Regina Crain said.

"He said, 'I'll figure it out,'" she said. "He made sure he could coach Ian's team."

She said she did not realize how many people were touched by her husband's life until the outpouring of support after his death.

Riverside Chief Sergio Diaz spoke directly to Crain's daughter and son.

"I know as you get older these stories about your dad will have greater meaning to you," said Diaz. "Mike was the ideal policeman."

Crain's military training prepared him for his leadership role in the Riverside Police Department, Diaz said. He was a patrol officer, firearms instructor, SWAT officer and helicopter observer.

"Because he was as good as he was, we made him a field training officer," Diaz said. "I think that we hoped that he could clone himself a few times over."

Ceremonies began with a procession from Acheson & Graham mortuary. The police escort passed under ladders extended from two fire department trucks near the entrance to the church.

Officer Brian Smith, who worked with Crain, was part of the procession. Smith, a field training supervisor, said Crain worked well with his colleagues.

"We worked graveyard (shift) together when he was a new cop," Smith said. "He's a patient man and hard worker.

"The emotions range from numbness to anger to fear that it happens to another one. The most tragic part is that way it happened -- two officers stopped at a red light, and they had no opportunity to defend themselves."

Law enforcement officials and other mourners followed a pipe band into the church. An overflow seating area was set up outside the church in front of a large monitor that displayed the service.

About 8,000 people attended the service, according to Riverside police.

Crain was born in Anaheim, the first of three children. He grew up in the Riverside area and graduated from Redlands High School in 1996.

Crain attended Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa before enlisting in the Marine Corps. He served two tours in Kuwait as a rifleman in the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines and was promoted to sergeant.

"Mike was courageous," said brother Jason Crain. "My challenge to all of you, if you accept it, be like Mike. Show that we have honor and courage, and that we can make the sacrifices when an act of valor calls."

He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 1 star, a Certificate of Commendation, and the Rifle Marksmanship Badge.

Crain then joined the Riverside Police Department, becoming a sworn officer in August 2001.

Retired detective Steve Pounds, Crain's training officer, recalled the first time he met the "tall, lanky" young man who added a "Sir" to the end of his answers to Pounds' questions. They met in the spring of 2001 when Pounds was asked to take an officer applicant on a ride-along.

"There was just something about him that screamed, 'Marine,'" Pounds said.

Crain (pictured, right) is survived by wife Regina, son Ian, 10, and daughter Kaitlyn, 4.

A fund was established for the officer's family. The money will go to Crain's children in the form of a trust fund.

"Mike was an amazing man," said Riverside Capt. John Wallace. "Mike continually gave of himself to others as a mentor, a training officer a backyard mechanic and a coach.

"Mike now takes on a new role, part of that elite group that have given that ultimate sacrifice."

Crain's death came two years after the shooting death of Riverside Officer Ryan Bonaminio, a 27-year-old Iraq War Army veteran.

Bonaminio was beaten and shot in Nov. 7, 2010 after encountering Green during a traffic stop. Bonaminio, a 27-year-old Iraq War Army veteran, was attempting to arrest Green after the subject fled the scene of a hit-and-run on Market Street.

A man convicted in the slaying of Bonaminio -- a shooting that occurred after the officer fell during a foot pursuit in a park -- was sentenced in June 2012 to death.

Crain's killing is among those connected to former ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who was involved in a shootout that ended with a cabin fire Tuesday in the Big Bear area. Forensics experts will determine whether charred remains in the cabin are those of Dorner.
 

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