Phoenix police officer dies after being struck by vehicle

Officer Paul Rutherford was killed in the line of duty Friday, March 22. [Phoenix Police Department]

A Phoenix police officer has died after he was struck by a vehicle.

The Phoenix Police Department said Officer Paul Thomas Rutherford, 51, had been taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition but was pronounced dead before 10:15 a.m. Thursday.

Police said Mr. Rutherford was investigating a collision in the area of 75th Avenue and Indian School Road around 8:30 a.m. when a separate vehicle struck him.

Chief Jeri Williams said Mr. Rutherford had been with the department for almost 23 years.

“As you would imagine, his wife and adult sons are devastated,” Ms. Williams said. “This is just another example of the inherent dangers that our officers face each and every day and yet they put that blue uniform on and go and serve our community.”

She said for people to keep Mr. Rutherford’s family and the department in their thoughts and prayers.

His death was the 39th in the line of duty for Phoenix police, Ms. Williams said. He was the second Valley officer to die from a vehicle collision in 2019, following Salt River Officer Clayton Townsend in January.

The collision involving Mr. Rutherford remains under investigation. Phoenix’s Vehicular Homicide Unit responded to the scene.

The 40-year-old driver of the 2015 Ford Expedition that struck Mr. Rutherford remained at the scene. Police said in the afternoon that the driver was not impaired but it is unknown whether speed or distraction were factors.

Mr. Rutherford’s badge number was 6403. He worked out of the Maryvale Precinct.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags be lowered at half-staff at all state buildings on Friday.

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