When a suspected car thief opened fire on the task force trying to arrest him, El Paso County Sheriff's Deputy Micah Flick threw his body in front of his fellow officers, acting as a "shield," widow Rachael Flick told thousands of law enforcement officers and others from across the nation who came to honor him Saturday.
"I don't know how you get much more heroic than that," she said, recalling that the men with Flick last Monday told her more would have died if not for him.
Three other officers were injured in the shootout: Deputy Scott Stone was shot in the abdomen, Sheriff's Sgt. Jacob Abendschan was sprayed with shrapnel, and Colorado Springs Police Officer Marcus Yanez was shot in the groin.
Civilian Thomas Villanueva also was shot and partially paralyzed. The suspect was killed.
Sheriff Bill Elder quoted Stone, who remains hospitalized: "Micah saved my life, and I will forever be grateful."
Whether because Flick's was the third Colorado deputy's death since New Year's Eve or because of his "benevolent energy and spirit," his death hits particularly hard, Gov. John Hickenlooper said.
He wasn't only a law enforcement officer. He was a loving husband and father to twins Eliana and Levi. He was a smile in tough times, and a "goof" who declared soup an appetizer only and who never shied from breaking down "very Caucasian" dance moves or starting a rap battle with his children using rhymes as silly as "corn," friends and family members said.
The tone-deaf Flick especially loved to sing pop songs, some of which played while pictures of him flashed on a screen at New Life Church, showing that his smile had not faded since childhood. Katy Perry, his celebrity crush, was featured twice.
Flick sang loudly without realizing he didn't know all of the words, Rachael said. She laughed recalling when she caught him singing the Christmas classic, "Do You Hear What I Hear," belting his own lyrics: "A child, a child, dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite."
Flick only got serious on the job, she said.
"He never wanted to do anything else but protect this community," said his brother-in-law, retired Colorado Springs narcotics officer Chris Brown. As early as his academy days in 2006, Flick said he joined law enforcement "to help those who can't help themselves," and it remained his motto to the end, Brown said. Fellow officers teased that he was "the poster boy of the sheriff's office."
Rachael said she knew his heart, knew he'd do what was needed to protect his brothers in blue and the community he served. It's why she'd always tell him, "Babe, don't be a hero. Do your job and do it well, but don't be a hero." She said she understands now it was the one thing he could never do: "Micah was a hero, and he couldn't help it."
Rachael paced the stage as she spoke about her husband. New Life was the family's "precious place," she said, where Flick had worshiped since he was 14, where the two married 11 years ago, and where their children were baptized a few months back.
The couple had met at the Briargate YMCA, Rachael said, where she knew he worked out at 2 p.m. daily. Their first date was Feb. 3, 2007, and before long, Flick asked her to "be my girl," she said. They married that fall.
"I loved him so very much," she said. "I love him now."
Yet since Flick's death, "the violence has not stopped," Brown said. Richardson (Texas) Police Officer David Sherrard was shot to death two days later, and Georgia Officer Chase Maddox was killed Friday.
During Flick's funeral, two more police officers were shot to death in Westerville, Ohio.
Rachael blamed her husband's death on the "cultural epidemic of a lack of respect for law enforcement and authority."
"If you steal a car and you get caught, then you surrender and submit to the authority that caught you. Can I get an amen for that?" she said, showing her first hint of anger. "It doesn't have to be this way. Do not allow (Micah's) death to be wasted."
She asked officers to continue to wear their uniforms proudly and live in Micah's image.
"It hurts all of us," said Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Beyer, whose colleague, Deputy Zackari Parrish, was slain on New Year's Eve. Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm was killed Jan. 24. "These always take a piece out of you," Beyer said.
Elder predicted the violence would lead many to leave law enforcement, as happened after the Planned Parenthood shootings of 2015. But the Sheriff's Office will remain strong and move forward, Elder said.
If Flick's death deterred any officers from their profession, it wasn't evident as thousands of them stood and pledged to take over his watch.
They will continue the job Flick gave his life for, Brown said. "The thin blue line is holding and will always hold, because it has to."