Weld County Sheriff's Office Deputy Sam Brownlee, 43, died in the line of duty on Nov. 23, 2010. Deputy Brownlee was shot and killed while struggling with a gang member following a high-speed pursuit.
At 9:37 a.m., it was reported to the Fort Morgan Police Department that the suspect had stolen his girlfriend’s car. The suspect was reported to be suicidal due to previous statements that he would rather die than go back to prison. At 10:29 a.m., the stolen car was spotted by a Wiggins police officer who began to pursue to suspect. The suspect was driving in excess of 100 mph. Deputy Brownlee and Deputy Terry Reed joined the pursuit near the Kuner Feedlot, just east of Kersey, after unsuccessfully attempting to deploy stop sticks. Several other deputies and officers joined the pursuit as it entered Greeley city limits.
The pursuit continued through Greeley and ended in Evans when at 10:58 a.m. the car stopped in the 3200 block of Coyote Lane. Deputy Reed and Deputy Donnie Patch, along with two Evans police officers, attempted to take the suspect into custody by removing him from the car. A physical struggle ensued. Deputy Brownlee, having lost sight of the suspect vehicle during the pursuit, joined the struggle upon arriving at the scene in Evans. During the effort to get the suspect into custody, the deputies and suspect ended up on the ground. Exactly 63 seconds after Brownlee arrived at the scene, the suspect gained control of his sidearm and fired three rounds.
As Deputy Patch attempted to disarm the suspect, one of the Evans Officers fired three rounds at close range, incapacitating the suspect. Deputies Reed and Patch immediately began life-saving efforts on Deputy Brownlee, while other arriving officers tended to the suspect. Deputy Brownlee was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Deputy Brownlee was hit by all three of the rounds. One struck him in the hand, one embedded in his vest and one entered his head. The suspect also died from his wounds after being transported the hospital.
Deputy Brownlee was born in Denver on Sept. 17, 1967. He was raised by parents, Kent and Nelda Brownlee, in Greeley. He graduated from Greeley Central High School in 1986 before attending the Weld County Post Academy. Brownlee served the Gilcrest and Ault police departments before beginning his employment in 2005 at the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. He served as a Field Training Officer, a Taser Instructor and a Firearms Instructor. Sam had two sons, Tanner and Chase, from a previous marriage. In June 2009, he married Heather and also became a stepfather to Tyler and Maddie. Brownlee was a proud member of the Blue Knights and the Harley Owners Group. He enjoyed the summer most when he could camp, fish, hike and ride his Harley. He loved spending time with his wife and children.
Samuel Kent Brownlee died in the line of duty serving the community he loved.
Sources: Weld County Sheriff’s Office After Action Report; 19th Judicial District, District Attorney’s decision letter; Greeley Tribune obituary for Sam Brownlee.