Kent Police Officer Diego Moreno — killed Sunday in the line of duty when struck by another officer’s vehicle — never hesitated to take his job to a higher level.
In April 2017, Moreno responded to a call about a person who was unresponsive after an opioid overdose and didn’t have a pulse. Moreno administered life-saving drugs and hooked up a defibrillator even before the fire department arrived.
“He single-handedly saved this resident’s life,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said at a Monday press conference outside the Police Station about the eight-year veteran of the department.
In 2011, Moreno responded to a call about a child drowning. He found the pool, jumped a fence, located the child who had been in the pool for a two to three minutes and was unresponsive.
“Officer Moreno began chest compressions and saved that child’s life,” Ralph said.
Moreno, 35, of Auburn, received awards from the police chief in each case and was honored in front of the City Council.
Ralph fought back tears as she told a story about her personal experience with Moreno, who went the extra mile at the annual Shop With a Cop holiday event at Target for economically disadvantaged children.
“Diego never missed one of these events,” Ralph said about the five-year program. “He would work his graveyard shift — we all know how busy that is — nonstop all night long, and then he would show up at Target in the morning, be paired with a child and spend the morning shopping with them to make sure they got the Christmas they deserve.
“Last year the child he was paired with got up to the checkout line with his basket full and didn’t have enough on the gift card (provided by the program) to get everything he wanted. Officer Moreno pulled out his wallet and paid for the things that child had picked out.
“That’s the type of person he was. The type of public servant that Officer Moreno was. He worked long hours to keep us all safe. He gave up his own money for the kids in our community to make sure that they felt loved and compassion and knew that they belonged here.
“The legacy that Officer Moreno leaves with our community is indescribable — the type of husband, father and police officer he was. There is a huge hole in our hearts, and it’s felt across the entire community, in the lives of every city employee and parts of every member of our police family.”
People continued this week to place flowers and cards outside police headquarters next to City Hall along Fourth Avenue. People also brought food to the department.
“It’s been a very difficult time for our police department, our officers and their families,” Police Chief Rafael Padilla said at the press conference.
Police arrested three teens this week in connection with Moreno’s death. The three were in a pickup that fled a shooting scene near West Meeker Street and Russell Road South and eventually led to a police vehicle hitting Moreno at the intersection of Kent Des Moines Road and Meeker Street after he deployed spike strips to stop the truck.
The 16-year-old driver of the pickup, Emiliano Garcia, was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder. Prosecutors charged two 17-year-old passengers in the pickup with unlawful possession of a firearm and one is also charged for possession of controlled substances, according to court documents. The two 17-year-olds were charged in juvenile court, but Garcia was charged in adult criminal court because under Washington law, if a juvenile is 16 or 17 years old and is charged with murder in the second degree, charges are to be filed into adult criminal court instead of juvenile court.
Service set for July 31
A service for Moreno is planned for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31, at the accesso ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St. All are welcome at the vigil and service.
Moreno is survived by his wife Shelly and two young children, Adrian and Peyton.
For those who want to donate money to the family, an account will be set up through U.S Bank, Padilla said.
Friends/relatives of the family also set up a GoFundMe online account for Shelly Moreno and her children.
The city of Kent had a vigil for Moreno on Wednesday evening at Town Square Plaza.
Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell announced on Monday that flags in the city would fly at half staff until further notice in honor of Moreno. Federal Way police officers will also wear a mourning band over their badges until Moreno is laid to rest, Ferrell said.