Friends and family remembered 55-year-old Vitaly Savin, the man shot and killed by police on March 9, as a loving and happy man at his funeral Saturday morning.

Savin left behind a mother, adult son and daughter back in Russia, and his wife in Edmonton.

“It’s very hard minute for me right now and what helps right now is friends of Vitaly and mine being around,” his wife, Svetlana Timofeev, said through a translator.

Savin arrived in Edmonton from Russia about eight years ago. Mike Korsountsev was his first friend in the city.

“I don’t think he actually attacking [the police officer],” Korsountsev told CTV News. “It’s not in his heart.”

More than 50 people attended Savin’s funeral. They remember him fondly, and as a man who cared about his Russian community.

“Whenever there was anything happening in the community, he would always be part of it,” said Irina Mierzewski, a member of the Russian-Canadian Association of Alberta. “He would be helping, he would be happy, he would be celebrating.”

The Russian community is struggling to understand why Savin died.

“People will come to sit together at the same table, but his spot will be empty,”Sergey Timoshchenk said.“For sure, it will stay in the memory for a long time. Plus, it’s not like a regular loss.”

The encounter between Savin and an officer came after police received two 911 calls to report a drunk driver in southwest Edmonton, EPS Deputy Chief Kevin Brezinski said.

The officer pulled Savin over in Hollands Landing at about 1:43 p.m.

Aman Jaggi was inside his home when he heard screaming outside his window.

“Within seconds of that I just heard four gunshots,” Jaggi said. “I opened my blinds and I looked over and I saw a cop over a body.”

The witness then went outside, where the officer gave him context of what allegedly happened.

“Once he pulled him over, the man in the vehicle came at him with a hunting knife and the officer said that he slipped back and fell on the ice and he had to shoot him,” Jaggi said.

Alberta Serious Incident Response Team confirmed a large knife was recovered near Savin’s body.

The officer who shot Savin is a six-year EPS veteran, and he is on an administrative leave while ASIRT investigate.

With files from Angela Jung