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West Hartford Police Sergeant Loses Battle with Cancer

Chris and Brittany Tyler with their sons, Brayden (left) and Declan. Courtesy photo (we-ha.com file photo)

West Hartford Police Sgt. Chris Tyler died Monday following a six-year battle with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.

Christopher Tyler’s wife, Brittany, and son Brayden help pin his new sergeant’s badge to his uniform in 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Police Sgt. Chris Tyler fought a valiant battle with a rare and aggressive brain cancer, enduring 10 surgeries and countless hours of treatment after being diagnosed at age 27 in 2015, but on Monday, May 24, 2021, at the age of 33, he succumbed to the disease.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of West Hartford Police Sergeant Christopher Tyler,” the West Hartford Police Department said in a statement released Tuesday. “Sergeant Tyler lost his courageous battle with cancer on Monday, May 24th. Sergeant Tyler was a valued member of our family since August of 2010 and will be deeply missed.”

Tyler began his career with the West Hartford Police Department on Aug. 15, 2010, and was elected by his peers as Exchange Club Police Officer of the Year in 2017 – two years after beginning his battle with cancer.

At the ceremony held in his honor in 2017, Tyler was referred to as “the consummate team player who mixes the perfect amount of intensity and humor to make every mission or training evolution the best it can be.”

Tyler was promoted to sergeant in December 2017.

During his career, Tyler served assignments with the Patrol Division, Community Interaction Team, and Emergency Services Unit. He was a Field Training Officer, Investigative Services Sergeant, and Administrative Services Sergeant.

He was the recipient of 14 departmental citations and letters of commendation as well as a merit award, and also received countless letters from citizens thanking his for his actions and good deeds.

Tyler and his wife, Brittany, were high school sweethearts who were together since they were teens growing up in Rocky Hill. Tyler went on to play Division I football at Stony Brook University, and the couple married in 2013 and looked forward to raising a family in their West Hartford home.

In an interview last fall, Tyler said that in 2015, when he was just 27 and their son Brayden was just 8 months old, he started getting headaches.

He thought the headaches were migraines, but eventually they got so bad he went to the hospital and a brain scan revealed a tumor and he was diagnosed with Anaplastic Ependymoma.

His first surgery was performed locally, but further treatment took place in Boston, with specialists from Dana Farber and Mass General involved in his care.

In March 2020, at the height of the first wave of COVID-19, Tyler developed a serious brain infection and had to have a portion of his skull removed for six weeks, facing the treatment alone because COVID restrictions banned visitors. After a subsequent surgery in March he needed six weeks in a rehabilitation facility to learn to walk again, but said he fought for his life to return to his family.

After keeping his battle with brain cancer mostly private, last fall he allowed his sister, Amanda Biella, to set up a GoFundMe campaign to assist with the mounting medical bills.

“When my sister talked to me about doing this, my only thought was that my family could be secure,” Tyler said in the interview last fall. “It’s a lot less stress off me. It’s not about me, it’s about my family.”

The campaign remains open and to date $52,336 has been raised.

Tyler is survived by his wife, Brittany, his young boys, Brayden and Declan, and many other family members and friends.

Information about arrangements will be provided once the details are available.

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