Brotherhood — ties forged through blood and shared sacrifice — mattered to DeKalb County Police Officer Edgar Isidro Flores.
The depth of the rookie cop’s relationships were evident Tuesday in the tears of a fellow officer and the strength of a teenage sibling eulogizing Flores, one day after what would’ve been his 25th birthday.
Amid the solemn grandeur that accompanies every funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty, a portrait emerged of a young man at peace with decisions he made, and planned to make.
Late Thursday afternoon, a bullet to the head ended Flores’ life following a traffic stop on Candler Road near I-20. The driver he had pulled over, Justin Taylor, 33, fled on foot. Flores was in pursuit when Taylor turned and started firing. The suspect died after a shootout with three officers from DeKalb’s SWAT unit.
PHOTO GALLERY: The funeral of Officer Edgar Flores
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Fellow DeKalb officer Justin Hamilton recalled the moment he learned Flores had been shot. “As a first responder who responds to scenes where people are shot in the head, hearing that, you want to have hope, but, you know,” said Hamilton, one of four officers, including Flores, to graduate from the 110th class of the DeKalb Police Academy.
“But still, I kept hope,” he said.
About two minutes later, he received another call confirming his worst fear.
The friends met on May 8, 2017, at 4 a.m, the first day of police academy. Hamilton remembered much about that day, including Flores’ attire. “He wore the skinniest pair of skinny jeans I’ve ever seen in my life,’ he said.
“We all grew extremely close, learned a lot about each other’s families, each other’s goals, what we wanted in life,” said Hamilton, fighting back tears. “Flores always, always talked about his family. That was his hobby, that was his thing.”
He was especially proud of his only brother, Alexis, 9 years his junior, Hamilton said: “It was almost like you were his son.”
Their father, Isidro Flores, said his sons shared a close bond, despite the age difference. Edgar drove him to school every day, and to soccer practice.
“He was always willing to help the family,” Isidro Flores said of his eldest son.
Alexis, 15, spoke briefly Tuesday inside the packed auditorium of Dunwoody’s All Saints Catholic Church. He remained remarkably composed, quietly telling mourners about his role model now gone.
“He was very loving, caring, fair,” he said. “He fought for equality.”
Edgar’s journey started in the impoverished border town of Nogales, on the Mexican side. His family came to America, settling in Habersham County, deep in the north Georgia mountains.
There, he overcame cultural and language barriers to become one of his school’s best-liked students, said classmate Kiara Mealor. He was enrolled in all the honors classes, and would later graduate magna cum laude from the University of North Georgia with a degree in criminal justice.
Along the way he met his fiancee, Liandra Mora.
“He was going to marry her,” Hamilton said. “They were going to have children. All this was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.”
As an officer, “he was an example for all of us to emulate,” said DeKalb Police Chief James Conroy. “He made DeKalb County a better place.”
Flores was born to the job — an expert marksman who aced every academy exam, said Hamilton.
His colleagues leaned on him, knowing if they ever needed something, Flores would respond. And almost always with a smile that was “all teeth and gums,” said Officer Alejandro Manjarrez.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
“I think I talked to him more than my wife,” he said, calling Flores his “little brother.”
His impact, and influence, will live on, his friends said.
Flores’ brother is testament to that enduring legacy. Major KD Johnson, who commands the South Precinct where Flores was stationed, shared a conversation he had with Alexis just hours after his brother’s passing.
“As I was leaving him, he stated to me that he wanted to be a police officer,” Johnson said. “And he wanted to wear his brother’s badge when he became a police officer, a DeKalb County police officer. And I told him, I assured him, we would make that happen.”
In the meantime, his brothers and sisters on the DeKalb police force vowed to follow Flores’ example.
“Well done,” said Hamilton, directing his words to the heavens. “We got it from here. I’ll see you at the final formation.”