SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – January 8, 1996 is a date etched in Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter’s memory.
“Sometimes it seems like it wasn’t real,” said Sheriff Jeff Easter.
It was real, however. January 8, 2018 marked 22 years since Sheriff Easter’s brother Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Easter, 24 at the time, was shot and killed in the line of duty.
“It was a little bit after midnight, I get a knock at the door and it’s two Wichita Police Department sergeants standing at my door which I knew wasn’t good,” Sheriff Easter said. “They had said that he had been shot around the vest area and was headed to the hospital.”
Sheriff Easter immediately called his mother and father. He then went to the hospital with Kevin’s wife.
“Her first comments I still remember was, ‘I knew this was going to happen someday,'” Sheriff Easter said.
Sheriff Easter and his family arrived at the hospital shortly after getting the news.
“That’s when I got informed that he probably wasn’t going to make it, that he received several gunshot wounds, some around the neck area and they were doing chest compressions, but from inside where they were massaging his heart. Of course, with my career seeing that done, I had never seen anyone survive that,” he said.
Kevin Easter, a two-year veteran of the force and newlywed, lost his life that night.
“I didn’t see him until he was delivered to the mortuary service in the casket and that’s when it set in for me that he was gone.”
More than two decades later, Sheriff Easter said he’s coming to terms with Kevin’s death. He said time has helped him heal.
“After 22 years, I’m not sure if it heals, but it allows you to relate to it better. It allows you to understand it better and move on,” he said. “We miss him dearly and I truly wonder where he would be at today at 46 years old and how many kids he would have had. I would have been an uncle to his kids. Those are things you think about, but can never take place, so you just move on from them.”
A photo of Kevin, his deputy uniform and several other mementos are placed on Sheriff Easter’s office wall. He said it’s a reminder of the legacy Kevin left behind.
“It’s behind me not in front of me because anytime I look at it, it does bring up that particular day and the bad memories, but we have to move on and that was part of my healing process and to be able to look at pictures of him and remember the good times not the bad times,” he said.
The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office has had six members killed in the line of duty.
Sheriff Easter’s son is named after Deputy Kevin Easter.