ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – The Englewood police officer killed in the line of duty will be laid to rest on Friday and the driver he pulled over who was also injured plans to attend the funeral.
Jeremy Bitner had pulled over Kevin Montoya for a traffic stop early Monday morning. Both were hit by a suspected drunk driver and Bitner passed away later that day.
Montoya is now out of the hospital and resting at home, recovering and also requesting privacy as he gets better. Montoya’s family said they plan to attend Bitner’s funeral.
At the Englewood Police Department flag were flying at half staff in memory of the first officer killed in the line of duty in the department’s history.
“You’ve got these kids, 9 and 7 I believe it is, who have to grow up without their father,” said Mike Adams, Montoya’s cousin.
Bitner was not only a father of two, but a husband. And now he’s a man that Adams will think about daily.
“I’m so sorry about ya’ll’s loss,” he said.
Adams said in a matter of seconds one crash caused three families a lifetime of pain.
“He was just trying to do his job and someone made an irresponsible choice,” Adams said.
Montoya was being issued a ticket by Bitner while pulled over on sounthbound Broadway. Both were standing near the patrol car when police say Conner Donohue, 20, hit them. Police say he was drunk.
“The kid took off and didn’t even stop,”said Robert Hunter, Montoya’s uncle.
Hunter was in Montoya’s car at the time and witnessed the crash.
Montoya’s grandmother, Val Kermmoade, believes there are other people who should now be part of the police investigation.
“Someone contributed that kid some liquor somewhere. He got that liquor somewhere and I think they need to find out,” Kermmoade said. “There is a third party out there responsible for this as well.”
“He was a class act, and a fine officer,” Englewood Police Chief John Collins said of Bitner.
Fellow Englewood police officers are wearing memorial bands across their badges for Bitner.
Adams says his family plans to attend the services and meet the officer’s family left behind from one crash that took only second to change so many lives.
“I can only imagine the pain that the kids and the wife are going through,” Adams said.
“Kevin feels bad about everything too. I told him, ‘Don’t blame yourself, it’s not your fault,’ ” Kermmoade said.
CBS4 has put in numerous requests for an interview with Donohue, who is still in jail. He’s declined all the requests. On Friday Donohue’s charges will be upgraded.
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