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Retired Yellowstone County deputy remembers fallen Arizona police officer

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Posted at 11:48 PM, Jun 11, 2024

BILLINGS - Fallen Arizona police officer and 2020 Billings West High School graduate Joshua Briese will be honored and remembered at the Rockvale Cemetery on Wednesday.

He will be buried next to his father, David Briese, who was also killed in the line of duty in 2006.

Officer Briese’s casket was brought from Billings Logan International Airport to the Dahl Funeral Chapel on Monday night.

The casket will stay until Wednesday morning and then be brought to MetraPark.

In the meantime, there will be a deputy on duty.

Family and friends honored Briese, who was killed while serving with the Gila River Police Department in Arizona on June 1.

Deputies stayed with Josh Briese’s body in what is called Overwatch.

“The symbolism is he's not alone,” said Clay Hackbarth, a retired Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputy. “They're proud to watch over him until tomorrow.”

Hackbarth worked on the same patrol shift as Josh's dad, Deputy David Briese, who died in the line of duty on Nov. 3, 2006.

“Dave was like a fireplug of a guy, you know, very stout,” Hackbarth said.

Hackbarth was a pallbearer for David Briese.

“It's so funny for how big of a guy he was,” Hackbarth said about David Briese. “He had this giggle and he just laughed. He was a nice guy. He wasn't a bully or anything.”

Hackbarth remembers seeing 7-year-old Justin Briese and 5-year-old Josh Briese at David's funeral at MetraPark in 2006.

“The memory I have of Josh, even though I've seen him since then, I always think of Josh as a little 5-year-old at his dad's funeral,” Hackbarth said.

In 2017, Hackbarth saw Josh who would later serve in the Big Horn County Detention Facility and then as an officer with the Gila River Police Department.

Hackbarth also had his time beside Josh's casket on Tuesday.

“I just prayed with him,” Hackbarth said. “I lost touch with Josh for a few years and I wish I would have kept in touch with him down in Arizona.”

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The itinerary for Josh's funeral starts on Wednesday morning at nine o'clock with a public viewing at the Metro Park, Montana pavilion.

The honor guard and motorcade will begin a procession at 11:00, for the Rockdale Cemetery with the graveside service to start at around noon.

“We still miss Dave and now of course, we have to miss Josh too,” Hackbarth said.

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