Updated at 11 a.m. Sunday: Revised to include the suspect’s name and bail information.
A Dallas police officer was fatally struck by a car early Saturday while directing traffic, police said.
About 1:45 a.m. Saturday, Officer Mitchell Penton was helping at the scene of an accident on northbound U.S. Highway 75 near Walnut Hill Lane when a black Kia Forte car driven by a 32-year-old man slammed into his squad car, police said. The impact resulted in the squad car hitting Penton.
Penton died at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, police said.
The officer joined the department on Feb. 6, 2019, and was assigned to the Northeast Patrol Division, the department said in a prepared statement.
He leaves behind a wife who is pregnant with their first child, Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata told KXAS-TV (NBC5).
“Our hearts are heavy right now,” Police Chief Eddie Garcia said. “This young officer had such a bright future ahead of him. We ask that the community join us as we pray for the officer’s family. We would also like to extend that prayer to the brave men and women of this great department.”
The driver of the Kia, identified by police as Phillip Mabry, was not hurt. Police said Mabry was suspected of being intoxicated at the time of the crash and was arrested on felony charges of intoxication manslaughter of a police officer and intoxication assault and a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession.
Penton’s emergency lights were on at the time of the crash, police said in a prepared statement. Witnesses told investigators that Mabry was traveling at a high speed at the time.
Mabry was booked into the Dallas County jail on Saturday in lieu of $501,000 bail. It was unclear whether Mabry had a lawyer.
Investigators interviewed a woman who was in the Kia’s passenger seat. She was taken to a hospital for trauma to her chest area and a cut on her face, police said.
Tragic night for us. This, a small sign of respect and admiration for a fallen brother and his family. Thank you to all Fire/EMS and to Baylor Medical Center for your tireless efforts. Rest easy, hero. We’ll take it from here. pic.twitter.com/Dxu0AO06a8
— Eddie Garcia (@DPDChiefGarcia) February 13, 2021
In a prepared statement, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the city on Saturday was mourning Penton’s loss.
“He died far too young, but the measure of a life is not longevity, but what someone does with the time they have,” Johnson said. “This officer dedicated his time to serving our great city in an inherently dangerous job. We are forever indebted to him and forever heartbroken by this tragedy. I am praying today for his family, friends and colleagues. I know our city will provide them with love and support as we seek justice.”
Gov. Greg Abbott called on Texans to pray for Penton’s family and police colleagues.
”Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of the Dallas Police Department officer who was killed in the line of duty this morning,” Abbott said in a written statement. “This terrible loss is a solemn reminder of the risks our brave law enforcement officers face while serving and protecting our communities.”
About 8 a.m. Saturday, Garcia posted a video of officers and other personnel lined up outside the hospital and saluting as Penton’s body was carried out draped in a U.S. flag.
“A small sign of respect and admiration for a fallen brother and his family,” Garcia tweeted. “Thank you to all Fire/EMS and to Baylor Medical Center for your tireless efforts. Rest easy, hero. We’ll take it from here.”
Outside the Northeast Patrol Division building Saturday afternoon, fellow officers and others left flowers on a police vehicle as a memorial. Among those who stopped by included Sr. Cpl. Keith Geissler and Edgar Campos, a former police academy classmate of Penton.
Police departments and officials from North Texas and across the state took to social media to offer condolences.
“May the Lord bless the officer with eternal peace and comfort his family and friends,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a Twitter post.
The men’s soccer team at Rogers State University in Claremore, Okla., noted on Facebook that Penton had played with the team.
“In our program we always talk about our Hillcat Family,” men’s soccer coach Derek Larkin said in a statement the program posted on Facebook. “Mitchell represented what it really means to be a Hillcat with his hard work and dedication to our program. I will always remember his infectious smile and kind soul. He will forever be a part of the Hillcat Nation and our soccer family.”
Penton played soccer at Rogers State starting in 2011 and earned a bachelor’s in justice administration in 2015, the statement said.
Penton was a graduate of the 2011 class of Richardson High School.
The last on-duty death of a Dallas police officer occurred in July 2018, when Senior Cpl. Earl “Jamie” Givens was struck and killed by a DWI suspect while escorting the funeral procession for a fellow officer through southeast Dallas.