LAPD holds impromptu salutes for officer killed in crash
Two rows of officers lined a Beverly Hills street Friday to salute the flag-draped body of a veteran Los Angeles police officer killed in a crash that also injured a rookie cop and a truck driver earlier in the morning.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti accompanied the body as it was removed from his wrecked patrol car and taken to a coroner’s van before it drove past the LAPD’s Hollywood Station, where the officer was assigned.
About 100 uniformed officers and civilian employees lined the street outside the Hollywood Station, saluting or placing their hands over their hearts as the van turned onto Wilcox Avenue. Just minutes before, black mourning bands had been passed out for officers to put on their badges.
As the van slowly proceeded down the street, accompanied by about two dozen police motorcycles and patrol cars, some struggled to keep their composure. After it passed, many cried as they hugged others.
“It’s a sad day today,” Beck told reporters earlier in the day.
The officer, described by sources as a 16-year department veteran and father of two, was killed when his patrol car collided with a large truck about 8 a.m. near Loma Vista Drive and Robert Lane, LAPD officials said. The officer was training a female officer -- just three months out of the academy -- who was injured but expected to survive, Beck told reporters.
Sources said the female officer suffered a broken arm, contusions and possible other injuries. Beck, who visited the officer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told reporters outside the hospital that the officer was “in considerable pain,” but “alert” and able to speak to her mother on the phone.
Also injured was the driver of the truck, who Beck said was also expected to survive.
It remained unclear what led up to the crash, though officials said investigators were looking into whether the truck’s brakes had failed. A long row of skid marks could be seen on Loma Vista Drive, leading to the truck that had tipped on its side.
Beck told reporters the officers were crossing through Beverly Hills for an “unknown trouble call,” but said it was unclear if they had lights or sirens running. The truck was hauling a container used for trash, he said, and might have had a Bobcat tractor attached to the back.
Condolences poured in from law enforcement agencies across the country as Garcetti asked that flags across the city be lowered to half-mast. By mid-morning they had already been lowered outside the LAPD’s downtown headquarters.
“On behalf of the city, we grieve a hero this morning, an officer who gave his life in the service of the people of Los Angeles,” Garcetti told reporters.
Tyler Izen, the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, called the officer killed “brave and courageous.”
“His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Izen said in a statement. “On behalf of all LAPD officers, our hearts and condolences go out to his family and friends and the entire LAPD family who feels his loss so deeply.”
Beck said the officer had worked in LAPD’s Wilshire and Hollywood divisions, describing him as a “family man” who was “extremely well-respected.”
“This is the most tragic of circumstances,” Beck said. “I feel for his family.”
According to preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer deaths in 2013, with 46 of the 111 deaths.
According to the organization’s data, 31 officers were killed in automobile crashes, 11 officers were struck and killed outside their vehicle, and four officers were killed in motorcycle crashes.
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