Thousands pay their respects to fallen OCSO Deputy Norman Lewis

Posted at 6:56 AM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 06:56:58-05

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. -- On Monday, thousands attended a funeral for Deputy First Class Norman Cecil Lewis at Murdock Baptist Church in Port Charlotte. The "Gentle Giant", as he was referred to by his closest friends and family, was killed on January 9th in Orlando during a manhunt for suspect Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing Orlando Police Sgt. Debra Clayton just hours earlier.

"It gets you right in your heart," said Charlotte County Defenders Law Enforcement Group VP Abraham Rahad.

Rahad was one of dozens from the Charlotte County Defenders Law Enforcement Group who attended Deputy Lewis' service.

Heartbroken friends and family and even strangers paid respect to a large man with an even bigger heart.

"6'5, 300 lbs. But that was not, size wasn't what made him big in all our hearts," said Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings.

Those closest to him said it was his infectious personalty and gentle spirit that made him so special.

"Gentle Giant, no trouble, he just did what he had to do and for that we will see him again," said Lewis' uncle Leon.

Monday's service was held at Murdock Baptist Church in Charlotte County where Deputy Lewis attended high school before playing football for the University of Central Florida.

After graduating in 2005, Lewis started working at the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

“I asked him during the interview, 'what do you think you do best?' And he replied I like to make people smile," said Sheriff Demings.

Even to citizens he gave speeding tickets to.

One citizen writing “I am now poorer in my wallet than when we met, I’m richer for the experience of someone who truly exemplifies a good cop.”

“When there’s a serious incident that occurs law enforcement run to that incident and essentially that’s what deputy first class Norman Lewis was doing this day,” said Sheriff Demings.

Deputy Lewis died January 9th while assisting in a manhunt for suspect Markeith Loyd who shot and killed another OCSO deputy just hours before.

While tears rolled down the faces of those saying their final goodbyes to a man they said had endless love for food and people.

Many said knowing he died doing what he loved brings them great solace.

“I just know he’s writing tickets to those speeding through the pearly gates. He loved his job," said Sheriff Demings.

On Sunday, the Orange County Sheriff's Office awarded Deputy Lewis a Purple Heart which his parents accepted on his behalf in Orlando.