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Police ID officer killed in car chase in Washington state

UPDATED: Mon., July 23, 2018

Washington State Patrol investigates the scene where a Kent police officer was killed while trying to put out a spike strip early Sunday, July 22, 2018. A police car struck the officer and a few civilian cars while chasing a pickup truck. (Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times)
Washington State Patrol investigates the scene where a Kent police officer was killed while trying to put out a spike strip early Sunday, July 22, 2018. A police car struck the officer and a few civilian cars while chasing a pickup truck. (Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times)
By Mike Carter Seattle Times

A Kent police officer was killed when he was struck by another officer during a chase early Sunday, police and the Washington State Patrol said.

Police and media reports said a preliminary investigation showed the officer was killed when he was struck by another Kent police officer chasing a pickup truck. The officer who was struck had apparently been deploying a strip of spikes across the roadway, intending to flatten the fleeing pickup truck’s tires. After the collision, the driver of the patrol vehicle that struck the officer went on to crash into three cars parked at a nearby in intersection and was seriously injured, said Kent Police Cmdr. Jarod Kasner in a news release.

“An officer deploying a spike strip for the pursuit was struck and killed, it appears at this point, by a pursuing officer,” said Washington State Patrol District Commander Ron Mead during a news conference Sunday.

Late Sunday, the department identified the dead officer as Diego Moreno, a decorated eight-year veteran with the department who was from Venezuela.

A woman who identified herself as Moreno’s widow, Shelly K. Moreno, posted a photo of the two of them and wrote: “It is with the sorrow of a million heartbreaks that I announce the death of my beautiful husband Diego,” she wrote. “He was killed in the line of duty last night. Thank you to everyone who has been and will be at our side.”

Moreno worked for Kent Police Department for eight years, according to a department’s Facebook post.

During that time, he worked as part of the civil disturbance unit, was a hostage negotiator and a defensive tactics instructor, according to a video on the Kent Police Department’s website.

In 2016, he received the Chief’s Award for Exceptional Duty after saving an elderly woman from a fire, according to the police department.

In June 2017, he received a Lifesaving Medal from the Kent City Council for saving someone from an opioid overdose, using Naloxone.

“At times I felt like I didn’t deserve them because I was just doing my job like anybody else,” Moreno said of the awards in the department’s video.

Shelly Moreno said services will be held at ShoWare Center July 31st.

Kent Police Cmdr. Jarod Kasner, his voice cracking at a televised news conference outside the police station, said officers had responded about 1:50 a.m. to a report of shots fired near Russell Road South and West Meeker Street, near a Shari’s restaurant. At the time the 911 call came in, a Kent police officer was also in the area and heard the gunfire. The officer witnessed a red pickup truck fleeing a parking lot as the witness described the suspect vehicle to dispatchers, he said.

Kasner said officers were in pursuit and that spike strips were deployed near Reith Road and Kent-Des Moines Road (Highway 516).

“One Kent Officer was struck and the pursuing officer was involved in a collision,” Kasner said in a news release.

The suspect vehicle, at least one tire flattened, continued east on Kent-Des Moines Road until it crashed and rolled onto its roof near Washington Avenue, he said. One person was arrested.

“It is directly because of this suspect or suspects’ actions that led to this officer’s death,” Mead said at the news conference. “While that vehicle may not have been the one that struck the officer, make no doubt about it that had it not been for their actions this officer would be alive right now.”

The officer who was struck by the vehicle died at the scene. The second officer was transported to Harborview Medical Center and is in satisfactory condition, Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.

Washington State Patrol is assisting with the accident investigation, while the Valley Investigation Team is conducting the criminal investigation, Kasner said. He said Highway 516 would be closed for several hours.

“This is a very sad day for law enforcement,” Mead told reporters. “Our hearts go out to the Kent Police Department.”

Detectives had marked off a number of shell casings located in the parking lot of the Shari’s restaurant. Kasner said anyone with information regarding the initial illegal firearm discharge or the accident to call the Kent Police Department tip line at (253) 856-5808.

State and local police went to the scene of the crash early Sunday morning to escort the officer’s body to the medical examiner’s office.

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