Chicago police funeral: Fallen Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso mourned at St. Rita of Cascia

Chicago Police Officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso was remembered as a "man with a big heart" who was "humble and happy."

Thursday, March 9, 2023
Remembering Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso
Remembering Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Slain Chicago police officer Andrés Mauricio Vásquez Lasso was remembered Thursday as a "man with a big heart" who was "humble and happy" as he worked for "justice and community."

Those words were spoken by his commander, Bryan Spreyne, who told the officer's family and friends who packed St. Rita of Cascia Church that "the heartache of your loss is shared across the city."

WATCH | Mourners line streets to pay respects to fallen officer

Mourners lined the street as a hearse transports fallen Chicago police Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso's body to the funeral at St. Rita of Cascia.

From the elaborate funeral procession to the bagpipes to the highly emotional service at St. Rita of Cascia, it was a perfectly executed tribute. Perhaps too much so.

"We don't want to be good at this, but we are. We do this way too often," said CPD Chaplain Father Dan Brandt.

WATCH | CPD Chaplain Fr. Brandt speaks

Chicago Police Dept. Chaplain Fr. Dan Brandt addresses mourners at the funeral for fallen Chicago police Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso.

Vásquez Lasso, killed in the line of duty a week ago, personified the American dream, said Spreyne, commander of the 8th district where Vásquez Lasso worked. He came to the United States from Colombia at the age of 18, learned English, then entered the Chicago Police Department at 27, Spreyne said. He wanted to become a detective.

"Like many people across the city these past few days, I've been trying to make sense of a tragedy that doesn't make sense," Spreyne said from the pulpit.

WATCH | CPD Supt. Brown, Cmdr. Spreyne speak

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown and 8th District Cmdr. Bryan Spreyne speak at the funeral for Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso.

"There are hundreds of Andreses out there, but we never hear of them until something like this happens," said Chicago police union president John Catanzara.

"Police officers are here to connect and protect communities and to keep our neighborhoods safe," he said. "That's what Officer Mauricio Vásquez Lasso did every day. And that's what he was doing on March 1 when his life was cut short.

VIDEO | Los compañeros del oficial caído le decían 'El Parce'

Un amigo del oficial caído Andres Vasquez Lasso, explica su apodo 'El Parce.'

Earlier, Police Supt. David Brown told the family of Vásquez Lasso that "we grieve with you and will never forget the sacrifice that Andres has made. At times like these, we are in despair. We don't believe anyone really cares about the sacrifices that are made, or knows the courage it takes to constantly run toward danger," Brown said.

"Another hero taken from us far too soon," he said. "He inspired all who knew him."

RELATED: CPD officer shot, killed as kids played outside school, prosecutors say

Spreyne said Vásquez Lasso "personified the American dream." That dream included meeting the love of his life, Milena Estepa. They married just a couple years ago and recently adopted a puppy. His wife paid tribute at the side of his coffin.

"Go with God," she said in Spanish. "I leave him in your hands. Thank you for the time and years that you gave us."

READ MORE: Wife of CPD officer killed in Southwest Side shooting speaks out

His cousin Jhon Vásquez, also a police officer, could barely contain his emotion when he spoke.

"To my cousin, my little brother, my fellow officer, we say farewell but we will never forget you," he said. "Andres was one of the bravest and most selfless individuals I have ever known. He was always willing to put himself in harms way to help others, and he did so without hesitation. ... He was a true hero in every sense of the word."

WATCH | Fallen officer's cousin Jhon Vásquez speaks

Fallen Officer Andres Vásquez Lasso's cousin Jhon Vásquez called him "a true hero in every sense of the word."

But it was the Vásquez Lasso's own words, quoted from a recent Instagram post by Officer Saúl Cantería, that offered perhaps the ultimate tribute, not just to the man he was but to the police department he loved.

"Behind this uniform there's another human being just like you," Canteria read. "This uniform doesn't make me a robot. This uniform is not a symbol of hate. This is not a symbol of 'us vs. them.' I hate injustice and lawlessness as well. That is why I became a cop. Even though my actions won't change the world, I can change the world of every person I come in contact with."

WATCH | Chicago police officers gather outside St. Rita

CPD officers gather outside St. Rita's after the funeral for fallen Chicago Police Officer Andres Vasquez Lasso.

Cantería, who attended the police academy with Vásquez Lasso, read a message from his phone that he sent the officer: "I keep thinking about how, 10 minutes before, that I saw you in the car. And we talked about our shades because it was finally a sunny day. I keep thinking how in 15 days we would have made 5 years since we started this policing journey. I keep thinking of how you always wanted to be the police. Despite everything that comes with this, you loved it."

WATCH | Friend, fellow CPD Officer Saul Canteria speaks

Officer Saúl Cantería, who attended the police academy with Vásquez Lasso, spoke about how much he loved being a police officer.

The Rev. Dan Brandt read a letter from one of Vásquez Lasso's work partners, identified as Gina.

"It was an honor working alongside you on beat 211. ... You had such a kind heart and a gentle soul. We've got it from here, brother in blue. Until next time," said Brandt, director of Chicago Police Chaplins Ministry.

Officer Vásquez Lasso was laid to rest following the service. The internment was closed to just friends and family.

SEE MORE: Impact of CPD officer's murder ripples through police families

Thursday night the Brotherhood for the Fallen, a Chicago-founded nonprofit, held a fundraiser for the grieving family.

"It's an emotional thing for all of us, but it's a necessary for us to be there for that family in whatever way we can," said CPD Officer Robert Garcia.

The nonprofit said all proceeds from the fundraiser will go directly to Vasquez Lasso's family.

Vasquez Lasso died last Wednesday after being shot at close range while chasing down an armed domestic violence suspect in Gage Park.

Lasso's family has started a GoFundMe to help cover funeral costs and provide support to his loved ones going forward.

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The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.