An LAPD motorcycle officer who was struck by a driver allegedly under the influence of drugs has died, police announced Wednesday, four days after the Sun Valley collision left him crushed between two cars.
The officer’s death was announced on the Los Angeles Police Department’s communications Facebook page just before 3:30 p.m.
“The LAPD Traffic Officer who was struck on his motorcycle this past Saturday has passed away today,” the post stated.
The officer was a 26-year veteran of the department, police had said.
He was identified as Officer Chris Cortijo in a tweet sent by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
“God Bless his family,” Beck wrote.
Cortijo’s colleagues saluted as his body was taken from a Mission Hills hospital to a coroner’s van late Wednesday afternoon. A police procession accompanied the van along surface streets and freeways to the county coroner’s office in Boyle Heights.
Mayor Eric Garcetti asked that flags be lowered to half-staff in the city, he said in an evening news conference.
Cortijo served as a U.S. Marine and was a father, Beck said at the event at LAPD headquarters downtown. Cortijo had arrested more than 3,000 alleged DUI motorists, Beck said, calling it a tragedy that the officer was killed by one.
“He was very, very well respected and well liked by the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department,” Beck said.
In a short video message sent to all LAPD officers, Beck asked them to wear their black mourning bands to honor Cortijo.
“He was a wonderful friend and father. We’re all going to miss him very much,” Beck said.
A tweet from LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division read: “It is with great sadness & a heavy heart we regret to announce the passing of our #LAPD Brother in Blue.”
Governor Brown also issued a statement on Cortijo’s death.
“Officer Cortijo dedicated more than half of his life to public service. He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him. Anne and I are deeply saddened to learn of his passing, and we join the Los Angeles Police Department and his family and friends in mourning their loss.”
The officer was critically injured when he was struck from behind by an SUV that did not halt for a red traffic light, police said. His motorcycle was crushed between the SUV and a car that was stopped in front of him.
Cortijo’s death comes two days after a gunman opened fire inside the LAPD’s West Traffic Division lobby, firing on two desk officers. One officer was shot multiple times and was hospitalized. Beck said it was a “truly a miracle” he survived.
Last month, veteran LAPD Hollywood Division Officer Nicholas Lee was killed when his patrol car was struck by a big-rig in Beverly Hills.
In the deadly Sun Valley collision, motorist Qaneak Shaney Cobb, 33, of Pacoima, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to driving under the influence of a drug causing injury and possession of cocaine. Her bail was set at $150,000.
Motorcycle officers are “very vulnerable,” LAPD Sgt. Frank Preciado said at the time of the crash, which occurred at Lankershim Boulevard and Saticoy Street.
“They go through a different kind of driving course, to try to anticipate some individuals. But, as you can see, it’s very difficult when someone’s coming from behind you,” Preciado said.
A donation account for Cortijo’s family was set up by the Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union. Donation information was at the credit union’s website.
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart we regret to announce the passing of our # LAPD Brother in Blue. RIP We will miss you!—
LAPDValleyTraffic (@LAPDVTD) April 09, 2014