Colorado Cop Car Auction and a Surprise Ending

By Faye Higbee

A Colorado Cop Car Auction and a Surprise Ending

Greeley, Colorado – Weld County Deputy Sam Brownlee’s prized police cruiser was a 2010 Dodge Charger. When he was killed in the line of duty on November 23, 2010, the car went back into the fleet rotation. When it was time to auction the car at its “retirement,” the Sheriff’s Department decided to hold their own auction for it in hopes of giving the vehicle a good home.

An important memory

Tanner Brownlee was just 15 years old when his father was killed. Sam’s two sons, Tanner, 19, and Chase, 16, launched a GoFundMe page in hopes of obtaining enough money to buy the car. They said they didn’t have many things to remember their father by, and wanted the car that he had worked diligently to keep in tip top condition.

“That car is more important to us than anyone else who is going to bid for it. It means a lot to me. It’s not just a fallen police officer’s car, it’s my dad’s car…I remember he was always cleaning it when he brought it home during the week. He absolutely loved that car. I want to honor his legacy by showing him I’m growing into a man and that I can handle the responsibility of taking care of his car.” Tanner Brownlee

The auction was set for Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30 pm. All proceeds from the event were to go to COPS – Concerns for Police Survivors- a charity organization that helps the families of fallen officers. It’s an organization that had helped the Brownlee family after Sam’s death.

The surprise of a lifetime

The car was valued at only $12,500. Tanner and Chase didn’t even come close to having enough money to buy the car, because one man, Steve Wells, a wealthy land owner in an oil rich area of Weld county, bid $60,000 for it. The boys had never met Mr. Wells prior to the auction.

“Tanner, here’s your car,” was all Wells said as he handed the keys over and started to walk out the door. Wells declined an interview from local news media.

 colorado cop car auction

Tanner Brownlee and the keys to his father’s Dodge Charger

Tanner got up and hugged Mr Wells. For Tanner and Chase, the ownership of their father’s car is a huge blessing.  They believe it will strengthen the connection to their father’s legacy.

In a day and age where  integrity is often lacking, Mr. Wells showed that caring can come in different packages. Not only did Tanner and Chase get their father’s car, but a local charity received far more than expected. Let’s not forget that there are still good people in the world.


“Tanner, here’s your car” -Tanner hugs Steve after receiving the keys – KUSA photo