Memphis Police Department Officer Corille Cortez “CJ” Jones' photo and badge shown on a screen at Hope Presbyterian Church during his funeral service. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

The last thing that one loved one says to another before death separates them tends to be something routine when death is not in the picture as the words are uttered.

“The last thing he said to me was that he was getting ready to go save lives,” said Sharon Jones, the mother of Memphis Police Department Officer Corille Cortez “CJ” Jones, who died on duty in a multiple-vehicle crash on Jan. 20.

“That meant he was getting ready to go to work. And I told him, ‘Alright, baby, be careful.’”

MPD is still investigating the crash, which involved three cars near the intersection of Shelby Drive and Pleasant Hill at about 3 a.m. Jones’ car collided with one of the two other vehicles, with that driver also killed.

After a visitation service last Wednesday night (Jan. 26) at Hope Presbyterian Church, a “Sea of Blue” – law enforcement vehicles with blue lights flashing – streamed away from the church at 8500 Walnut Grove Road as family, friends and colleagues watched the procession.

The funeral for Jones, 32, was held at the church the next day.

“You just had to know CJ,” Sharon Jones said in an interview with The New Tri-State Defender. “He loved being a police officer. He loved people and had a real desire to protect and serve.”

Initial news reports simply stated that a police officer and civilian had been killed. Sharon Jones and other family members learned that “CJ” was the police fatality when MPD came to the home to deliver the news later that morning.

Sharon Jones took in the message but it was unbelievable to her because “CJ” had always been such a good driver, she said.

Some family members saw a video of the crash. CJ’s aunt, Vicki Logan, who works for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, called the crash horrible, adding that the intersection was dangerous.

Logan is credited with getting her nephew interested in becoming a police officer.

“Before CJ became an officer two years ago, he was a firefighter,” said Sharon Jones. “CJ had worked as a firefighter a year before he decided that he really wanted to be in law enforcement. He felt like he could really make a difference and show people that there really were good police officers. He always tried to be the best.”

Among the online expressions shared after Officer Jones’ death was one from a fellow officer who recalled Jones once taking off his gunbelt to play basketball with a group of kids.

MPD Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, along with officers Terrence Balfour, Stephen Owens and Keith Payne, shared expressions and reflections during Jones’ homegoing service, with the eulogy delivered by Dr. Brian M. Carmichael Sr., senior pastor of Holy Temple Missionary Baptist Church.

Officer Jones also leaves an uncle and aunt, Stanley and Gale Lynn, who raised him; two daughters, Kaitlyn M. Jones and Harmony A. Jones; his grandmother, Margaree Logan; three sisters, Sylvia Wells, Sandra Griggs and Carolyn Brooks; and his fiancée, Melanie Clark. He was preceded in death by his father, Robbie McKinney

Sharon Jones said that when her son would learn of the death of another officer he would, “Say a special prayer for their families, their children. … I guess we never imagined that he would be one of those officers one day.”

Officer Jones would have been 33 on April 25 and he would have celebrated the second anniversary of joining the police force on February 15.

The Memphis Police Association has started a fundraiser for the family.