Family, colleagues mourn fallen officer

Family and fellow officers of San Francisco police Officer Bryan Tuvera mourned his loss Sunday as they prepared to spend Christmas without him, following his shooting death during a pursuit this weekend.

“It’s pretty devastating, to say the least, to lose an officer like that, especially one that is so well-liked and had so many ties into the department,” San Francisco Police Officers Association Vice President Kevin Martin said Sunday.

Tuvera’s widow, Salina Tuvera, a fellow officer whom he met while working at the Park Station and married in October, is the daughter of a department veteran. Bryan Tuvera’s father was a department dispatcher who died of an illness 10 years ago Saturday, Martin said.

Bryan Tuvera, 28, a four-year department veteran, died at 12:01 a.m. Saturday after San Francisco General Hospital doctors were unable to revive him. At about 8:30 p.m. Friday, a robbery suspect who had been on the run since escaping from a state prison firefighting camp nearly two years ago allegedly shot him in the head when Tuvera pursued him into a garage of a Sunset district home. Tuvera’s partner then shot and killed the suspect, Marlon Ruff, 33, of San Bruno, police reported.

On Sunday, Lt. Jason Cheneriss, Tuvera’s supervisor at Taraval Station, read a statement from Tuvera’s family that called Tuvera a “dedicated police officer and a friend to all.”

Cheneriss supported that statement, indicating that Tuvera, “symbolized the best of the young generation” of police officers. He said Tuvera’s superiors recognized his excellence and had been grooming him for work as an investigator.

Outside Taraval Station, an impromptu shrine of at least 30 bouquets, wreaths and potted flowers surrounded a photo of Tuvera and a copy of the poem “A Policeman Was Killed Last Night,” by Jim Cole.

Martin said Tuvera’s death in the line of duty resonated throughout the force.

“A lot of the dispatchers knew his father, Benny, and they also knew Bryan when he was growing up. To have to be on the other end of the dispatch when this tragedy is unfolding is extremely difficult for them,” Martin said.

Tuvera is the third San Francisco police officer to die in the line of duty this year. On July 26, Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco was killed when a robbery suspect fleeing in a van rammed his police car. On May 1, Sgt. Darryl Tsujimoto collapsed while conducting a training exercise on Treasure Island.

Tuvera’s death comes as a jury deliberates the guilt of David Hill, 24, accused of gunning down Officer Isaac Espinoza on April 10, 2004, in San Francisco’s Bayview district. Espinoza was the last San Francisco police officer to be gunned down while on duty.

“When something like this happens, it’s like the thin blue line just got a little bit thinner,” Martin said Sunday.

Funeral services are expected to be held later this week.

amartin@examiner.com

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