Gathered together in the sanctuary at Real Life Church, a coalition of law enforcement personnel, friends and family said goodbye to Deputy Michael Churney during his memorial service on Tuesday.
Churney, a Santa Clarita resident who died on March 17 at the age of 44, following complications with a brain hemorrhage, was described as a loving father and husband, as well as a “character” who was beloved around the Lost Hills Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“Since 2013, I think of all the critical incidents that many of us have been on together, whether it’s fires, floods, deputy-involved shootings, just recently protests,” said Lt. Jen Seeto. “One thing is for sure, I would always get a call from Mike Churney, and he would say, ‘Jen, what do you need, what can I do for you?’”
Sgt. Raymond Armstrong discussed how the deputy would walk into his office to say hello in the morning, and holler at him “Rampage,” because Armstrong’s haircut made him look like UFC Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
“Who calls their sergeant ‘Rampage?’ I don’t know, but Mike did,” said Armstrong. “Like I said, he was a character and a fun person to be around. I’m really going to miss that guy in both my professional and personal life.”
With his patrol motorcycle parked on stage, a large topic of conversation for the speakers on Tuesday centered around Churney’s passion for motorcycles and being a motor deputy, even committing himself to volunteer work as a charity and race organizer.
However, the most prevalent point, among the many passions and relationships discussed during the funeral, was Churney’s relationship with his 5-year-old son, Hunter.
“Hunter was his world,” said Deputy Paul Ferreira. “Our phones would blow up regularly with pics and texts with the little redhead’s latest escapades and shenanigans.”
“Hunter, your Daddy loves you so much and he always will,” said Ferreira, now speaking directly to Churney’s son, who was sitting in the front row. “Talk to your daddy, because he’s listening and he’ll always be there for you.”
Shannon Churney took time during her emotional speech to thank those in her LASD family and community for having supported her and her son after her husband was taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. She also thanked the deputies who stood guard at his door in the hospital and those who stood at attention during his Honor Walk — when, as an organ donor, Churney’s body was taken to the operating room to have multiple organs donated to those in need and scientific research.
Churney’s widow described how the two had supported each other through their individual professional schools/academies, surgeries and health scares, but she said Churney’s pride and joy was their son.
“Mike absolutely adored Hunter, and Hunter adored him,” said Shannon Churney. “Mike was Hunter’s hero, and Hunter always said he was going to be daddy’s motor partner when he grew up.”
At the end of the ceremony, his son was presented with the folded flag commemorating his father’s service, and “Amazing Grace” was played on the bagpipes.
Churney joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1996 and was initially assigned to Lost Hills. He was later reassigned to Men’s Central Jail and Court Services West, but eventually returned to the Lost Hills Station to work in the motorcycle unit in 2008.