Phoenix police officer dies in fatal hit-and-run

vehicleRaetzHitAndRunFatality Although it seems obvious that police work is dangerous because there are bad guys with guns trying to kill them; roughly the same number of  policeman killed in the line of duty die as the result of a traffic collision than by being shot (or stabbed)….

May 19, 2013 ~ 3:30a, Phoenix police officer Daryl Raetz was killed while “processing a DUI suspect near 51st and Cambridge avenues when he was struck by a green Ford Expedition, which then fled the scene”. azcentral.com. The story doesn’t give much detail, I would assume from what was presented he was a pedestrian, which is consistent with the picture of the SUV that struck Raetz, which police released later.

The suspect vehicle, was located a few hours later by Surprise PD, was a large, raised SUV green/gray Ford Expedition with fog lights and oversize rims  Jesus Cabrera Molina, the owner of the SUV, was arrested and currently being held on unrelated drug charges; while  police determine who was driving at the time of the hit-and-run. The suspect has been denied bond, as apparently he is not a US citizen. azcentral.com

Updates in a 5/23/2013 azcentral.com story: “Experts say that without an eyewitness account placing SUV owner Jesus Cabrera Molina, 24, in the driver’s seat shortly before or after Raetz was hit near Cambridge and 51st avenues, that process could take months”. The owner of the SUV isn’t cooperating with police.

Update; Molina was formally charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene on 6/4/2013. Police haven’t revealed what evidence they have that cause them to bring charges at this time. I tagged this case as “circumstantial evidence” to the extent that there is no positive ID of driver, as far as I know.

Police work is dangerous

Although it seems obvious that police work is dangerous because there are bad guys with guns trying to kill them; roughly the same number of  policeman killed in the line of duty die as the result of a traffic collision than by being shot (or stabbed). The Officer Down Memorial Page lists and categorizes all law enforcement deaths in the line of duty across the US. The exact numbers, of course, float around from year-to-year; in 2012 there were 52 gun/knife deaths (54 if you include 2 from accidental gunfire), and 48 traffic deaths (21 automobile “accident” 5 motorcycle “accident”, 6 struck by vehicle, 5 Vehicle pursuit, 11 vehicle assault — usually dui’s).

Just a couple of weeks ago on May 6, 2013 Arizona DPS officer Tim Huffman was killed when a semi-truck inexplicably slammed into his parked cruiser on I-8 (Interstate 8), on the scene of a previous collision. This was despite all sorts of flashing lights (there were numerous units on the scene for the prior crash), cones, and waving arms. The yumasun reported DPS  arrested Jorge Espinoza a few days later on 2nd degree murder and a string of endangerment-type charges associated with the crash. They were mum on what factors might have been involved (impairment?). 2nd degree murder normally indicates impairment.

[  I am not sure how/if lookup works for Yuma County Superior court; kyma reported with a date of July 17, 2013 that the truck driver was “in court” on a string of charges including 2nd degree murder… So he must have been indicted; I would guess this would have to be Yuma County Superior Court.]

[Minor update see comment below for an update on the DPS officer who was killed. It is being implied the investigation showed that the truck driver was distracted, but dps is not saying by what, according to an Arizona Republic columnist dated 9/28/2013 that oddly said nothing of the criminal case…  If this really comes to pass that he was “only” distracted, that would be a first that a driver is charged with 2nd degree murder; I always surmised there was some other “smoking gun”, like the old go-to: impairment ]

[Updates: see report-truck-driver-was-looking-at-phone-in-deadly-crash 2nd Degree murder charges have been filed]

One thought on “Phoenix police officer dies in fatal hit-and-run”

  1. http://www.azcentral.com/insiders/laurieroberts/2013/09/28/senator-calls-for-crackdown-on-texting-drivers/

    Laurie roberts is suggesting the truck driver was distracted because of using some sort communications device (cell phone, texting, whatever):

    … would think this would be an easy call for Halliday, whose own officers know that texting is dangerous but can do little to stop it. One of them, DPS Officer Tim Huffman, was killed in May when his patrol car was struck by a tanker truck as he sat on the shoulder of Interstate 8 at an accident scene.

    Graves confirmed that the driver, Jorge Espinoza, was distracted but he wouldn’t say by what. I’ve been told that police suspect Espinoza was typing on his phone, perhaps even updating his Facebook page, when he ignored an officer waving wildly at them before plowing first into a DPS patrol car with emergency lights flashing then into Huffman’s car.

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