Houston police, family to pay respects to Officer Ernest Leal Jr., first HPD officer to die from COVID-19

HOUSTON – The Houston Police Department and family will pay their respects to Ernest Leal Jr., a senior officer who died after battling COVID-19 for several weeks.

Leal’s funeral mass will take place Thursday, Dec. 3 at 11:30 a.m. at Christ the Redeemer Church at 11507 Huffmeister Rd.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, the service will be reserved for family, friends, HPD staff and those who knew Officer Leal. About 9:45 a.m., Officer Leal’s body will be escorted from the Brookside Funeral Home-Cypress Creek at 9149 State Highway 6 North and arrive at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church at 10 a.m. The route will be as follows:

Start: Brookside Funeral Home – Cypress CreekRight turn onto State Highway 6Right turn on Huffmeister RoadEnd: Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church

Upon Officer Leal’s arrival at the church, his fellow North Division officers and the HPD Honor Guard will escort his body inside and assume casket guard duties in the Narthex until the funeral begins.

Leal died Friday at the age of 60, according to HPD. He served as an HPD officer since August 1984, serving more than three decades with the North Patrol Division. He also worked in the Northeast Patrol Division and briefly in the Jail Division.

Leal leaves behind his wife, Dee, and his children, Victor, Veronica, Virginia and Vanessa.

The 35-year department veteran is the first HPD officer to die from COVID-19 and the fifth line-of-duty death within the past 12 months.

Mayor Sylvester Turner released a statement regarding the death of Leal.

As a city, we collectively mourn and feel the grief and heartache of losing two employees in the same week as a result of COVID-19. I ask all Houstonians to pray for the families of Officer Ernest Leal and Joel Cirilo. In their own way, they contributed to our city and made life better for all of us. I am grateful for their dedication and service to the City of Houston. COVID-19 does not discriminate. It is an insidious virus that has claimed far too many lives in Houston and around the nation. Each of us must do our part to stop the virus from spreading and destroying families.”Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nine municipal employees, three Houston firefighters, and one Houston police officer. The Mayor reminds everyone to continue to mask up, practice social distancing, wash their hands frequently, and get tested.

Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.

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