Friends and colleagues of a Los Angeles police motorcycle officer are remembering him as one of the hardest working and most generous officers in the department.
Officer Chris Cortijo, a 26-year LAPD veteran, died this month after he was hit by a motorist suspected of driving under the influence of cocaine.
Cortijo was responsible for the apprehension of more than 3,000 DUI drivers in his career. Cortijo’s dedication and compassion is what made him a beloved member of the department, colleagues said.
"It's known that he'd just give away money to people,” said LAPD Lt. David Ferry, who worked with Cortijo at Valley Traffic Division for more than a decade. “He didn't really care that much about money. He loved his work."
Cortijo was struck by an SUV while he was stopped at a red light at Saticoy Street and Lankershim Boulevard on April 6. The collision pinned him between the SUV and the vehicle in front of him.
"When the collision happened my phone started going off,” Ferry said. “They said it was bad.”
The 51-year-old DUI task force officer arrived at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills with a severed spine. Four days later, he left in a coroner's van trailed by an LAPD motorcade.
"The initial shock, the sorrow and grief, the anger, this was unnecessary, this was avoidable,” Ferry said. “This is somebody that chose to drive under the influence of drugs and kill a very good man."
“Chris' sacrifice will not be forgotten - absolutely not,” Ferry added. “He was a man of honor, he's going to be buried with honor and we're going to be there to see him off."
Memorial services are planned this week for Cortijo.