LODI -- Friends and family said their final goodbyes to a young Stockton Police officer who was killed by a hit-and-run driver last weekend.
Hundreds of fellow officers, and people who did not even know Officer Justin Kepler, went to the Bear Creek Community Church in Lodi to pay their respects. Those who knew Justin best described the officer as a sarcastic, Slurpee-loving, funnyman, who always managed to get pranked.
"He ordered the same thing I did, just to piss me off. So when he'd leave the table, I'd put Tobasco sauce in his Dr Pepper. He still drank it," brother and CHP Officer Kyle Kepler said.
Many of the eulogies brought tears of joy and nostalgia to the people in the audience.
Officer Kepler was the middle brother, always ready with the perfect punch line.
"My mom she always pushed us to be fire fighters. She said 'Come on, people like it when you show up. Look at the trucks!' So my brother writes, 'When I grow up, I want to not be a fire fighter,'" his brother said..
Instead, Justin Kepler became a Stockton Police officer. He got the badge four years ago and from day one, the 28 year old stood out.
For being a field training officer at such a young age, after 4 years on the job, that's a major accomplishment," Officer Joe Silva of the Stockton Police department said.
"His superior investigative skills, his proactive nature, his deep pride in his uniform and his job were admired," Chief Eric Jones said.
He passion was riding motorcycles. That is what he was doing last Saturday night, when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
"I truly adored my big brother. He was my best friend, my rock, and my protector," younger sister, Shelly Kepler said.
"It takes a friend to pick you up when you fall. It takes a good friend to pick you up and wipe away the tears. It takes a best friend to laugh at your face. Kepler was the best kind of the friend that could be. You will be missed," his best friend from the Police Academy, Officer Richard Oster said.
The funeral service was followed by a private burial ceremony.