Local Officers Object to Flag in Sheriff's Funeral

By  | 

Some questions and concerns have arisen following Wednesday's funeral of a longtime Brazos County lawman.

Former Sheriff Bobby Yeager was laid to rest at Callaway Jones Funeral Home.

During the service, a small confederate flag was draped atop Yeager's casket, under a floral spray.

Because of the flag, representatives of the College Station and Bryan police departments, who were part of the honorary color guard, declined to participate in the entire service.

"As you well know, there have been numerous controversial issues regarding that symbol and what it represents and several people within our community may have an issue with it," Assistant Chief Scott McCollum with the College Station Police Department said. "Our community may have an issue with it and our objective is that we obtain our authority through public trust and we have a responsibility to all of our citizens in our community. We felt in an official capacity we need to be supportive of what Mr. Yeager did and his life and dedication to public service and to the community we serve, but we feel due to the circumstances, we needed to extract ourselves from the situation."

"The department felt that the flag on top of the casket was inappropriate," said Bryan Police spokeswoman Jillian Garza.

Bryan Assistant Chief Peter Scheets went on to say Bryan PD representatives decided to leave because College Station PD had decided to do the same.

"Our leadership that was on site didn't feel that it was appropriate for us to stay after College Station had removed their officers from the casket guard. So we completed their turn at the casket, coordinated with the sheriff's department, then we removed our officers at the time," Scheets said.

The Brazos County Sheriff's Office also had representatives in the honorary color guard. Those representatives decided to stay and take over the actual service and graveside activities.

On Thursday, Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk released a statement, which read, in part:

"The display of the banner on the foot of Bobby's coffin was a surprise to me and I did believe that there would be some who would consider it controversial," Kirk said. "However, I decided it was appropriate to honor Bobby Yeager for his service to Brazos County, so I acquiesced to the family and respected their right to honor their loved-one's final requests."

Mike Donoho, Bobby Yeager's son-in-law told News 3 that the flag was not meant to be offensive, and that it was discreetly displayed.

Yeager had requested to have the flag displayed at his funeral before he died. According to Donoho, Yeager was a civil war historian and fifth generation Texan.

"He was southern proud and had no intentions of anyone being offended of the flag being displayed at his funeral," said Donoho.

Donoho said, no one told the family that they were offended by the flag. If someone had voiced a concern, the flag would have been removed.

Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk's entire statement:

"I've known former sheriff Bobby Yeager for nearly 27 years and really appreciate all that he has done for me. Bobby hired me in July of 1980 as a Jail Officer and later sponsored me as a candidate to the Texas A&M Law Enforcement Academy. Upon graduation Bobby appointed me to a Patrol Deputy position, a position I held for two years, then he promoted me to Criminal Investigator. At the time that I started at the Sheriff's Office I really had a strong interest in a career in law enforcement, it merely was the means to an end while I attended Texas A&M University. It is by the grace of God and the trust and confidence of Bobby Yeager that I serve as the Brazos County Sheriff today. I know that Bobby took his oath to serve very seriously and I do believe that he was a good sheriff for Brazos County.

The display of the banner on the foot of Bobby's coffin was a surprise to me and I did believe that there would be some who would consider it controversial. However, I decided it was appropriate to honor Bobby Yeager for his service to Brazos County, so I acquiesced to the family and respected their right to honor their loved-one's final requests.

As far as I am concerned, Bobby Yeager served honorably as the Brazos County Sheriff and deserved to have a law enforcement honor guard. I have never known Bobby to be prejudice in any way. I've always known him to treat all people fairly and ethically. I've also known Bobby to be a man of his word, a man who spoke frankly and never worried about being politically correct.

I stand to say I am proud to have known Bobby Yeager. I thank him for the opportunities that he provided for me. I will miss him. "

KBTX received the following viewer emails regarding the controversy surrounding former Sheriff Bobby Yeager's funeral:

"I realize political correctness has run amuck, but when a person can't even have the funeral they want because it might be insensitive to the diverse population is ridiculous. The ones who refused to participate because of the Confederate Battle Flag should be ashamed. Political correctness, diversity, the feminization of men and illegal immigration are destroying this country and some people refuse to participate in a funeral because the deceased probably wanted the Confederate Battle Flag draped over his coffin. I see and hear things every day that offend me but it would be a waste of time to say anything. If everything that offended someone were banned there wouldn't be much left."
Betty Hill

"I am personally appalled at your news story on one of the best Sheriffs Brazos County has ever had. I cannot believe you have made news out of this, do you have no feelings for the family of this man? It is sad that College Station P.D. and Bryan P.D. pulled their guard detail out and prevented other employees from attending this service and tribute to Bobby Yeager. I do give a large credit to Sheriff Chris Kirk for standing up like a man, and voicing his opinions and thoughts to these strange feelings of being politically correct. There were a large number of people there that were shocked by this man's death. I worked with KBTX for over 8 years as coordinator of the Brazos County Crime Stopper's Program, and I don't believe this would ever have happened in the 80's.
Charles R. Owen, former Investigator of The Brazos County Sheriff's Department

"Thank you for telling our community the quality of "Law Enforcement" we don't have. Other than Sheriff Kirk, the others couldn't stand in Bobby's boots. After the lifelong commitment he gave to our community he should have been properly honored in life, but especially death. For the police departments to leave a funeral and disgrace the very things Bobby Yeager stood for is shameful. They should all hang their heads. It's the most disgraceful thing they could do. It is a disrespect for the family and friends. The department we have now wasn't born with the same standards or fortitude Bobby had, and it can't be trained, they proved that at the funeral.

Thank you Chris Kirk for standing up for the moral rights of our loved Sheriff Bobby Yeager.
That speaks volumes of what kind of man you are, not to speak of a great Sheriff.
Sherran Bard

"Shame on the Bryan and College Station Police Departments for walking out on the funeral of Bobby Yeager. That was so very petty!!! I do hope that at their funeral their family will not be treated with so little respect and compassion as they did his family. You all make me feel very ashamed.
Chris Kirk and Department, thank you for being a stand up man and department. You did the right thing standing in for a friend and his family. You are a good example we all can look up to."
Kay Wilton