The son of a fallen Colorado police officer was stunned when he was outbid for his late father's car, but was even more stunned by what happened next (video below).
Tanner Brownlee's father, Sam, was killed in the line of duty in 2010. Following his death, his patrol car was retired and put up for auction because of how attached he was to it. The car was one of the first brand new Dodge Chargers that the department started using instead of the old Ford Crown Victorias.
“The agency didn’t really want anyone who wasn’t authorized to drive one of the new Chargers,” Cpl. Gerald Porter said.
“Sam took that responsibility very seriously; he loved that car. If there was anything wrong with it, we were on top of it. He was very interested in keeping it in great condition.”
Brownlee was killed after being shot three times in a struggle with a gang member. The auction was a way for his fellow officers to honor his memory by retiring the vehicle.
“This has been in the works for more than five years,” Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams told the Greeley Tribune. “A lot of people felt like we had to do something special to honor Sam. It would be a great injustice if his cruiser spent the rest of its days as a taxicab.”
Steve Wells, a wealthy rancher, heard about the auction and immediately knew that he needed to attend.
“Here was a man who lost his life as a deputy sheriff for the people of Weld County,” he told KCNC.
“His son wanted something to remember his dad by and the fact that that young man could sit behind the wheel of that car and look through the windshield that his dad did was extremely important to me. It was just something I felt I had to do.”
On the day of the auction, Wells was one of many bidding on the car — as was Tanner Brownlee. Tanner was devastated when he was outbid, not realizing that Wells had bigger plans. After winning the cruiser, Wells approached Brownlee and handed him the keys.
“When the auction was over and I walked up and I handed him those keys... that is a lifetime moment. It was for him and it was for me,” Wells said. “That was a moment that, for me, meant everything.”
Watch the touching moment in the video below.