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Thousands Mourn Fallen Los Angeles Officer

Thousands of mourners gathered in downtown Los Angeles Thursday morning to remember Los Angeles Police officer Nicholas Lee, a young husband and father who was killed in a car crash in Beverly Hills last week.

The emotional ceremony at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels drew Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as hundreds of law enforcement officers from across Southern California.

Lee, 40, was killed Friday when a truck struck his cruiser near Loma Vista Drive. His partner, identified only as Stephanie by LAPD officials, was seriously injured in the accident.

A 16-year veteran of the LAPD, Lee leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. He was born in South Korea, and came to the U.S. at age 6 with his parents, a brochure provided at the memorial stated. He met his wife, Catherine Kim, at Cal State Fullerton, officials said.

Speaking to mourners at the Cathedral, Archbishop Jose Gomez suggested Lee's legacy would endure, through the lives of his wife and daughters, and the love he brought to the world.

"The key is transforming what is mortal into the immortal," Gomez said. "Transforming what is transitory into the eternal."

The Cathedral was reportedly at its capacity of 3,500.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck spoke directly to Stephanie, who attended Thursday's memorial. In a rare, personal moment, Beck recalled he, too, lost a partner in a traffic accident years ago.

"Mine died in my arms," Beck said, his voice shaking with emotion. "He will never leave you. He will always be in your heart. Your challenge is to live up to his expectations, your challenge is to be the cop he wanted you to be."

Lee was also a trainer at Hollywood Station. Garcetti, who represented the Hollywood area as a city councilman, cited the lives that Lee saved and protected during his time on the force.

"We look up to Nicholas, and see an angel, soaring over this city of angels," Garcetti said.

The service drew statewide attention.

In Sacramento, the state Senate adjourned in memory of Lee, according to a tweet by State Sen. Kevin DeLeon, D-Los Angeles. "Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family," DeLeon wrote.

An investigation into the crash is continuing.

Copyright 2014 - Daily News, Los Angeles

McClatchy-Tribune News Service