ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – An Englewood police officer has died after being run down during a traffic stop.
The routine traffic stop turned into a hit-and-run around 12:05 a.m. Monday. It sent the police officer and the man he pulled over to the hospital. Officer Jeremy Bitner, 39, died from his injuries later Monday morning.
The incident happened in the southbound lane in the 5200 block of Broadway. Both Bitner and the driver he pulled over, identified as Kevin Montoya, 20, of Littleton, were transported to Swedish Medical Center. Montoya is reported to be in stable condition and improving. He suffered a head injury and fractured tibia.
Police said the driver, identified as Conner Donohue, 20, from Arapahoe County, fled the scene and the Littleton Police Department located him several miles from the scene. Donohue is being investigated for DUI and vehicular assault.
“(He) was serving him a summons on the hood of his car when a suspected DUI driver came southbound, sideswiped his car and hit him and the guy that he pulled over and kept driving,” Officer Perry Schellpfeffer with the Englewood Police Department said.
Donohue is being held at the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Detention Facility. He faces DUI and vehicular assault charges, and vehicular homicide is expected to be added.
Bitner was an eight-year veteran with the Englewood Police Department. He was married with two children. He was the first Englewood officer to die during a critical incident.
“Anytime we lose a member of our family, especially in this situation, it’s nothing less than heartbreaking, and the grieving is something that we’re dealing with right now,” Englewood Police Chief John Collins said.
“He was a great guy, we’re going to miss him terribly; very well respected by his peers,” Patrol Commander Sam Watson said.
Bitner also served as a soldier in the Army in Bosnia.
Montoya’s uncle, Robert Hunter, who was in the car at the time of the hit-and-run, is frustrated his nephew was standing on the side of the road instead of on a sidewalk when he was pulled over.
“I saw him just fly off in front of the car and he flew about 50 feet and my mind couldn’t register it right away. I saw it but my mind couldn’t register it,” Hunter said. “What was more frustrating was that the kid took off, he didn’t even stop, we didn’t even hear brakes squeal, all we heard was an impact.”
The investigation is being conducted by the Colorado State Patrol.
Services for Officer Jeremy Bitner will be June 1 at the Denver First Church of the Nazarene, 3800 E. Hampden Ave. at 1 p.m.
Following the Church service the Police procession will travel to the Fort Logan Cemetery for the 3 p.m. interment.
A Memorial Fund has been established for the Jeremy Bitner family, for those who wish to make a donation please forward to the following locations:
The Officer Jeremy Bitner Memorial Fund
The Belco Credit Union or any Public Service Credit Union, account number #591654637.
Donations can also be mailed to:
The Belco Credit Union
c/o Officer Jeremy Bitner Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 17000
Denver, CO. 80217-7000