Slain Lafayette officer mourned by his Destrehan family

In the days unfolding since her brother’s death in the line of duty in Lafayette, Mandy Middlebrook-Lovett is in disbelief over all the good he did as a police officer.

“He touched so many lives,” the Destrehan resident said. “In the last couple of days, we’ve learned so much about him from people he impacted in the community.”

A nine-year veteran of the Lafayette Police Department, Cpl. Michael Paul Middlebrook was among the officers who responded to last Sunday’s 911 call reporting a battery with gunshots at a local convenience store. On arrival, they were ambushed by the alleged shooter who was still inside the store.

Although they returned fire, Middlebrook died in the incident. He had a wife and three daughters.

“Every colleague said he was an exceptional officer,” Mandy said. “He had something you couldn’t teach. It was instinct, always being able to solve a case and get to the bottom of it.”

Middlebrook is a former Destrehan resident and attended Destrehan High School until his parents divorced, and he relocated with his mother to Lafayette. But Mandy said he kept close contact with his family in St. Charles Parish, and she lamented the loss of a brother who always wanted everyone to smile.

“He was the happiest person in the world,” she said. “He always had a smile on his face no matter what was going on. He always brightened the room with a smile. I can’t say enough about how his smile was so beautiful.”

Their father, Herman Middlebrook, also a Destrehan resident, said his son always wanted to be a police officer. He was a military policeman in the U.S. Army and then joined the Lafayette Police.

“If I had to say one thing about my son, it’s that I’m so incredibly proud of the man he had become,” he said. “I wish I had just one more day with him to tell him how blessed I am to be his father.  My promise is to keep his legacy alive.  He took a piece of me when he left, but I’m certain that we will meet again in heaven.”

Michael’s many accomplishments were outlined before Congress by Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Lafayette, who referred to him as “My brother of the thin blue line.”

Higgins said Michael had received seven letters of commendation for acts of bravery and outstanding police work; he received the highly prestigious Heart of Law Enforcement award for his ongoing contributions to the community he patrolled that included bringing donated food to the homeless and less fortunate.

He added, “Deep in the night, while the world slept, in the last six months alone, Cpl. Middlebrook was recognized for having saved a person’s life by placing himself between the victim and knife-wielding suspect, and for single-handedly arresting an armed robbery suspect seconds after the 911 call was made.”

Higgins also read a statement from Police Chief Toby Aguilar who said Michael “was the spearhead” that brought many to justice. And, for many others, “he was the cradle of compassion, an officer’s officer … loved and respected by his peers.”

Mandy wished she had known about her brother’s many contributions to the community while he was living rather than at his funeral, but he was a humble man. In death, the many people he helped surfaced to tell his family about them.

Mandy knew him as the brother who always wanted to make everyone smile and helped in any way he could.

“Growing up, Michael struggled with divorced parents and I believe he saw a little of himself in them,” she said of those he helped.

When the family recently visited the convenience store where he died, Mandy recounted how the owner told them he made everyone so happy when he came by there and brought  food from there to those in need.

At the funeral, she observed a group of nearly 30 convenience store owners in his precinct all tell Michael’s family about how good he was to them and showered them with love.

Mandy recalled a child who talked about how Michael helped him.

This boy was Dontraylan Lawrence, a Lafayette Middle School student, who said Michael visited him regularly to make sure he was okay.

“He’s going home,” Lawrence said. “He was a nice, giving man. I will keep his memory alive. I’m gonna stay out of trouble.”

Growing up with Michael was special for Mandy.

“I just remember that when it was time for him to spend time at our house I was so excited,” she said. “I just loved showing him off to my friends … how handsome he was, and was so silly and goofy he was to make someone smile. He was older so he’d drive me and some of my friends around. We’d sing at the top of our lungs, and he’d sing along.”

These are some of Mandy’s vivid memories of her beloved brother who loved to fish and spend time with three daughters.

“I’m just so proud of him,” she said. “I’m just so sad he’s not here for me to tell him that.”


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