Seattle Police Officer Killed By Speeding SUV

Seattle Police Officer Killed By Speeding SUV
SEATTLE - A 26-year-old rookie officer killed when his police car was hit by a sport utility vehicle was identified Monday as Joselito Barber.

Barber's fellow officers said he was enthusiastic about starting his career with the police department, and although he was new to the force he will be greatly missed.

Barber was killed Sunday when his car was hit by a sport utility vehicle that reportedly barreled through a red light at about 80 mph.

A 31-year-old woman was arrested and remained under police watch while being treated at Harborview Medical Center for a broken left leg and ankle, Officer Sean P. Whitcomb said.

The woman was found in the passenger seat of the black GMC Yukon following the crash but apparently had been driving and switched seats after the crash, Whitcomb said, adding that initial reports indicating the driver fled on foot turned out to be incorrect.

The young officer "was fulfilling a lifelong dream of being a police officer," his uncle Ron Barber told reporters Monday at an impromptu memorial at the crash scene. "He was extremely proud to be a Seattle police officer."

Officer Barber was driving north on 23rd Avenue on routine patrol and had a green light when his cruiser and the SUV, eastbound on Yesler Way, collided about 4 a.m. Sunday at the intersection in the heart of the Central Area, Whitcomb said.

Barber was the eighth officer in the city to die on duty in the past 30 years.

The last death of a Seattle police officer on duty occurred on March 16, 2005, when Harbor Patrol Officer Jackson Lone fell, apparently struck his head on some rocks and landed in the Lake Washington Ship Canal after trying to tie off an abandoned tugboat.

"Two officers in two years: It's just hard on this department," Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said.

Barber had been on the job for two months after completing the six-month police academy and was engaged to be married, police said.

"This is a tragedy that could have happened to anybody. It's our misfortune that it's a friend and colleague," Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb said investigators believe the 3-ton SUV may have been going as fast as 80 mph when it smashed into the police Ford Crown Victoria, which was knocked over a street light and past a covered bus stop.

Medics at a fire station across the street needed power tools to remove the battered patrol car's door and were unable to revive the officer.

Mayor Greg Nickels directed that flags in the city be lowered to half-staff.