LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An LAPD motorcycle officer who was struck by an SUV in Sun Valley Saturday has died.
Officer Chris Cortijo, a 26-year LAPD veteran who formerly served as a Marine, was hit around 5:30 p.m. at Lankershim Boulevard and Saticoy Street, according to police.
The officer was waiting at a red light when an allegedly impaired driver slammed his SUV into Cortijo’s motorcycle.
Cortijo worked with the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division, who released the news of Cortijo’s death via Twitter:
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 9, 2014
Police Chief Charlie Beck also expressed his condolences via Twitter:
— Chief Charlie Beck (@LAPDChiefBeck) April 9, 2014
The SUV’s driver, 44-year-old Qaneak Shaney Cobb, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of driving under the influence of a drug and being in possession of cocaine.
The Pacoima resident reportedly plowed her Chevrolet Blazer into the back of the motorcycle, leaving Cortijo trapped between the SUV and a Honda Accord stopped in front of him.
As Cortijo’s body was being transported Wednesday afternoon, a long motorcade of LAPD officers followed in tribute.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck mourned Cortijo’s death at a news conference.
The mayor described Cortijo as having “made an impact on public safety, who ironically spent his life making sure that our streets were safe.”
“Today, our city mourns. I, as mayor, mourn alongside, and was devastated to hear the news,” Garcetti said.
The police chief said Cortijo, twice named “Officer of the Year,” lived a life of service and was well liked by his colleagues.
In his career, Cortijo arrested more than 3,000 motorists suspected of driving under the influence. Beck credits him with having saved countless lives.
“We will miss him. We will honor him. God speed, Chris. We’ll see you on the other side,” Beck said.
A blood drive was held in Cortijo’s honor Monday at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, where the officer was being treated. Hospital officials said 100 pints of blood were collected. Another drive was held Tuesday at the LAPD’s Mission Station.
Cortijo is the second LAPD officer to die in a traffic-related incident over the past five weeks. On March 7, LAPD Officer Nicholas Choung Lee, 40, was killed when an out-of-control truck struck his patrol car in Beverly Hills.
“The tragedy of this situation, the two deaths that we’ve had in just over a month, a couple of very close calls as well, remind all of us of the sacrifice that our bravest heroes make,” Garcetti said.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)