Sister of Fallen Navajo Police Officer Remembers Her ‘Baby Brother’

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Police officers from the Navajo Police Department, the Gallup Police Department and the McKinley Sheriff’s Office carry the coffin of Navajo Nation police officer Houston James Largo as other law enforcement salute their fallen comrade Thursday in Rehoboth, N.M.

Published March 20, 2017

REHOBOTH, NEW MEXICO – Tamarra Largo described her baby brother, Houston James Largo, 27, the only way a protective and loving big sister would.

Officer Houston Largo

“I clearly remember the day he was born,” said Tamarra of her brother, Houston. “My grandma was happy to share the news that it was a boy. I was shocked…because I wanted a little sister. But, I fell instantly in love with him…when I first held him in my arms.”

Tamarra also told the crowd of mourners during Houston’s funeral service held at Rehoboth Christian School gymnasium Thursday morning that her brother had always aspired to be a police officer since he was a child.

“Very early on Houston demonstrated a strong liking and fondness for law enforcement,” said Tamarra. “His version of a greeting would be ‘Freeze, Navajo Police’ while acting like he was drawing his guns.”

When he was younger he enjoyed playing with toy cars “in the dirt” while making police siren noises as well as watching ‘Cops.’ Then as a teen he would volunteer at the Thoreau Fire Department and going on ride-alongs with police officers. By college, as a Gates Millennium and Chief Manuelito scholar at the University of New Mexico, Houston was a part of the UNM campus police.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez hugs mother of fallen Navajo Nation police officer Houston James Largo during his funeral Thursday in Rehoboth, N.M.

“It was only natural that he would become a cop,” said Tamarra, who said her brother figured that college wasn’t for him, and went off instead to the New Mexico Police Academy in Santa Fe where he graduated in 2011. He served in the Gallup Police Department, McKinley County Sheriff’s Department and up until his end of watch, March 12, he was a senior police officer for the Navajo Nation Police Crownpoint District.

Along with Houston and Tamarra’s parents, two other brothers, family and friends, there was also tribal, New Mexico and Arizona leaders, and distinguished police officers that had travelled to pay their respect to their brother in blue.

Among the officers were Sgt. Custer Bryant, senior officers Christopher Sloan and Joel Lueppe, these men had worked alongside Houston at the Crownpoint district since he arrive in 2012.

Like older brothers would be, Bryant, Sloan and Lueppe, were very protective of Houston, they looked out for him whether it be as back up or just by feeding him, because he was always hungry.

“Houston was very intelligent, honest and courageous,” said Bryant. “He never gave me problems. He was never in a bad mood. He was always smiling and he was always hungry.”

Within the past couple of years animosity toward law enforcement has increased throughout the country. The Navajo Nation Police has a little 200 police officers to cover the vastness of the 27,000 square miles of the Navajo Nation, usually leaving officers to respond to calls on their own.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
A long line of law enforcement vehicles and fire trucks continue to leave Rehoboth, N.M. as other emergency vehicles drive along Interstate 40, top center, Thursday during the funeral service for fallen Navajo Nation police officer Houston James Largo.

According to a McKinley County Sheriff’s Office backup report, Houston was responding to a domestic violence call when he was shot twice by suspect Kirby Cleveland, one shot was fired to his abdomen but he was protected by his bulletproof vest and the other shot struck him in the right side of his forehead. He was airlifted to the University of New Mexico hospital where he succumbed to his injuries Sunday afternoon.

“Remember in that uniform, behind that badge, is a person that is loved and honored and respected by many people,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. “Every officer is precious to us.”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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