MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – A Memphis police officer who was struck by the fleeing vehicle of a man suspected in a downtown shooting that left three other people injured died Saturday night, police said.
Officer Verdell Smith, 46, was pronounced dead from his injuries at 10:43 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings said during a news conference.
Police said two people were taken to the hospital in critical condition after being shot by the suspect on North Main about 10 p.m. Saturday. They say the suspect then ran to Bass Pro Pyramid and shot a male employee. The condition of that victim was not immediately available.
Police said the suspect then fled in a vehicle and later struck Smith, who had been working with other officers to clear the area. The unidentified suspect then fled briefly on foot but was apprehended by police, taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to face charges.
An investigation is ongoing.
Rallings said Smith was an 18-year police veteran who is survived by a father, fiance, son and two daughters.
“He’s a man’s man and he was an officer’s officer. He was definitely a great father,” Rallings said. “Like I said, he loved his son_always talked about him, always had him with him. I think his son is taking it really, really hard. He had two daughters as well.”
Rallings said the department mourned the loss not just of Smith but of other officers killed in the line of duty, including Officers Sean Bolton in 2015 and Martoiya Lang in 2012.
“Each one of them have their own characteristics that they bring to this job . When called to do the job that they’ve been asked to do – each and every one of these individuals has done that.”
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland posted a message of remorse and anger on his on his Facebook page.
“My family joins all of Memphis in mourning the loss of Officer Verdell Smith, who gave his life in service to our city,” Strickland’s post read. “I call on every Memphian to remember Officer Smith’s family in prayer and reflection today and in the coming days – and to be grateful for the dangerous, important work our men and women of MPD perform every day.
“I am angry this morning – angry at the senseless loss of a dedicated public servant, and angry at the absolutely unacceptable level of violence in our city. We must not accept this as our norm. I most certainly will not, and I will continue to act to make our city safer.”
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