Homeless vet, shot by cops, buried with honor

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In death, homeless Vietnam veteran Thomas Higgenbotham was treated with the dignity that seemed to have eluded him in life.

Higgenbotham, 67, was shot 10 times by two police officers in Portland, Ore., who told a grand jury he drunkenly approached them with a knife as they tried to roust him from the abandoned car wash where he slept. According to their testimony, they had used a Taser, but it was blocked by his many layers of clothing.

Police were called because earlier in the day, Higgenbotham had reportedly gotten in the face of a security guard, yelling obscenities and threatening her.

One friend told The Oregonian he was a tough-as-nails vet, who “had the opportunity to have a roof over his head, but couldn’t stand being cooped up.” Another puzzled over why his life ended as it did when Higgenbotham had “seemed perfectly normal to me a couple of hours earlier.”

Because he had no home, no money and no legal next-of-kin to make his funeral arrangements, Ross Hollywood Chapel and Little Chapel of The Chimes stepped in to see that he received a memorial to honor his service, said Dennis Virnig, chairman of the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program in Portland.

An Oregon National Guard bugler played taps beneath a canopy of trees, after a three-volley salute. Higgenbotham’s casket was then laid in the ground at Willamette National Cemetery.

[via The Oregonian]
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