San Jose rookie officer, former football star, suddenly dies

The San Jose Police Department is mourning the loss of a rookie officer who died at his home Sunday. 24-year-old DeJon Packer just graduated from the police academy one year ago. His football coaches say he was living his dream, serving the community where he grew up.

"Everybody is devastated. Everyone is really, really hurting. It’s hard to believe," said Brent Brennan, the head football coach at San Jose State University. He said the team is heartbroken over the loss of Packer.

"He was just an awesome shining bright light," said Brennan. "He just had crazy energy and a big smile and he just brought joy to everybody he came in contact with."

Packer played at SJSU from 2017 to 2019. After graduation, he joined the police academy and became an officer for the San Jose Police Department.

Alonzo Carter worked directly with Packer as his running back coach.

He said Packer was a friend to everyone, and calls his death a huge loss for the entire community.

Carter said, "He influenced my career because he went the hard way. Going from San Jose City College, he was a walk-on player, he worked a full time job came and earned a scholarship here and graduated with honors and left as a starting running back."

Packer was found at his home in Milpitas on Sunday. The circumstances around his death are under investigation.

Packer grew up in San Jose and attended Gunderson High School.

Coaches canceled practice Monday. They held a team meeting instead and took calls from former players, offering them words of comfort. Many of those who played with Packer are still on the team.

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Coaches say he made a huge impact during his time as a Spartan and even inspired several others to join the police academy.

"A couple other players on the football team are following in his footsteps. It leaves everybody devastated he is gone, but his legacy will never be forgotten," said Carter.