Serve and protect: Off-duty police officer killed after stopping to help people in a multi-vehicle crash

SEATTLE, WA – An off-duty Seattle Police officer was reportedly killed during the early morning hours of June 13th while assisting on the site of a multi-vehicle crash on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.

Officials say that the officer was struck by a vehicle involved in a subsequent crash.

The slain officer has been identified as 38-year-old Officer Alexandra Brenneman Harris.

According to the Washington State Patrol, there was a multi-vehicle crash that occurred slightly before midnight near the Spokane Street on-ramp on the Interstate 5 South.

Reports indicate that as many as 10 vehicles were involved in the crash, causing severe backups along the interstate.

Calls then came in about a subsequent multi-vehicle crash that occurred at approximately 1:18 a.m. near Columbian along the backup caused by the first crash. Officer Harris had reportedly just finished up her shift and stopped to assist those involved in second the crash.

Officials say that after Officer Harris had stopped to render assistance, a yet-to-be named driver struck the officer, with the officer sadly died at the scene. Officials say that the driver who struck the officer remained at the scene and is cooperating with authorities.

However, an unknown suspect at the scene where Officer Harris was killed had stolen the officer’s personal vehicle. Police have yet to find the person who stole the vehicle, but later found it abandoned during the morning of June 13th.

The Washington State Patrol is urging the public to come forward if they have any knowledge related to the suspect who stole the fallen officer’s vehicle.

It’s unclear as of this writing whether any criminal charges are being considered regarding the driver that allegedly struck Officer Harris, as the Washington State Patrol are still investigating the matter.

Brandi Kruse, host of the Q13 Fox program “The Divide with Brandi Kruse,” took to Twitter to share some of the kind words spoken by current and former Seattle Police officers regarding Officer Harris:

“She was a real life Wonder Woman,” said a former SPD officer who left the agency last year. “(She) exemplified what it meant to be a well-respected, driven, self-motivated, hard working, squared away human being.

“I was truly in awe of her motivation, dedication and ability to excel at damn near everything she did. As one of the very few female cops that I looked up to and aspired to be like, she naturally outperformed many of her male counterparts…

“…and was exactly who you’d want by your side and as your backup. It’s no surprise to hear that (she) selflessly put the safety of others before her own, but it is tragic and heartbreaking to know that she lost her life doing just that.

“(Her) death is a particularly tough loss that will be felt by so many people who she positively impacted. (She) lived a tremendously meaningful life and will be sorely missed.”

Officer Harris served with the Seattle Police Department for five years before her passing.

This is a ongoing investigation. 

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further insight into this developing case. 

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Earlier in June, Law Enforcement Today reported on a retired police officer that was fatally shot in New York City while trying to help a friend’s elderly father ward off a man harassing him. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – A retired NYPD officer was shot and killed by his friend while trying to stop a drunk from harassing an elderly man outside a pizzeria on June 6th.

Retired officer Thomas Marrinan, 57, was killed after rushing to a pizzeria in Kensington with his friend Robert Velasquez, a retired city correction officer whose 86-year-old father was being harassed by an unruly 33-year-old man at about 7 p.m., according to police.

The incident developed after the unruly man, believed to be intoxicated, got into an argument inside Korner Pizza in Brooklyn. An employee called Marrinan, considered a “fixture” in the community by locals.

The argument spilled into the street where witnesses say the man, later identified as 33-year-old Michael Soto, was harassing the elderly man.

Marrinan and 53-year-old Velasquez went to the scene to intervene. When they arrived, witnesses reported a scuffle broke out and Velasquez pulled out a firearm.

At that time, witnesses reported Soto tried to grab the gun, and the men struggled for the gun. The weapon discharged one round, striking Marrinan in the chest.  Soto was also struck in the arm by the same bullet.

NYPD Deputy Chief Joseph Gulotta said during a news conference:

“At one point, the 57-year-old male and another male, who is 53 years old, came to the aid of the 86-year-old.

A physical fight ensued. During the course of the struggle, the 53-year-old male pulled out his firearm and one round, we believe, was discharged, striking both victims.”

Both men were taken to a hospital for treatment. The retired officer was pronounced dead at Maimonides Medical Center about two hours after the shooting. Soto was listed in stable condition, police said.

Police said the shooting remains under investigation and no charges have been filed. Gulotta said:

“The investigation is ongoing. We are very, very early in our investigation and there is a lot of work the detectives have to do.”

Video taken of the scene by bystanders showed a shirtless man, presumed to be Soto, with a bloody left arm being apprehended by police on the sidewalk.

About 40 feet away, Marrinan lies fatally wounded on the sidewalk with his wife and Velasquez beside him, according to video and a witness. Velasquez could be heard on the video telling Marrinan to “stay with me” as Marrinan’s wife cries in the background.

People in the neighborhood described Marrinan and Vesaquez as good friends, and both were respected by the community. The same neighbors described Soto as a person known in the community as a troublemaker.

Police sources said Marrinan separated from the NYPD in 2015 after 23 years of service.

Alan Dubrow remembered his friend Marrinan:

“He is a terrific human being. It’s a real tragedy.”

Dubrow talked about the victim’s habit of donating hair for cancer victims:

“He’s retired, I would say, three, maybe four years. Just a swell guy. Continuously grew his hair long so it can be used for people with cancer. He was just one of those guys. Just a terrific human being.”

Another friend, Sam Saied, praised Marrinan’s sacrifice to help others:

“He sacrificed himself to help others. That’s him. That’s him. He sacrificed himself to help others. His wife came running, and she was holding him.”

Commenting on the shooting on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said:

“My heart goes out to his family. Really, really horrible loss.”

Police did not release a cause for the initial argument between Soto and the 86-year-old man.

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The post Serve and protect: Off-duty police officer killed after stopping to help people in a multi-vehicle crash appeared first on Law Enforcement Today.

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Author: Gregory Hoyt


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