Tributes Pour in for Fallen LAPD Officer of the Year

Tributes began pouring in for the 26-year LAPD veteran on social media

A police motorcade escorted the coroner's van carrying the body of an LAPD officer who died days after he was hit by a motorist suspected of driving under the influence of cocaine.

The procession Wednesday for Officer Chris Cortijo started at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills and ended at the coroner's office in Boyle Heights.

Tributes began pouring in for Cortijo, a "teddy bear" of a man, who was widely loved.

The dedicated cop was responsible for the apprehension of more than 3,000 DUI drivers in his career.

"The ultimate in tragedy is that he gave his life up because of somebody who callously and wantonly operated a vehicle under the influence," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck at a press conference. "We'll miss him. We'll honor him. Godspeed, Chris. See you on the other side."

Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered city flags to be flown at half staff, the second time in little over a month he has done so. The first time was for an officer killed when a truck suspected of losing its brakes crashed into the patrol car he and his partner were in as they were on their way to an emergency call.

"All of us know every single day that every single one of the Los Angeles Police Department who suit up and go out, go out on what may be their last day," Garcetti said. "But the tragedy of this situation ... remind all of us of the sacrifice that our bravest heroes make."

Tyler Izen, the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), the union that represents the rank-and-file officers, said in a statement that LAPD officers are saddened by his death.

"Our hearts are broken," he said. "We extend our deepest condolences to the Cortijo family, friends and coworkers."

Sgt. Kurt Smith called Cortijo, a two-time officer of the year, a "true motor cop."

"He was, in so many ways," Smith said. "But a teddy bear, if you knew him."

During the past few days Smith said he heard a couple of personal stories about his Valley Traffic Division friend, "caring things he had done that reflected the best of who we can be."

"He didn't advertise these things," Smith said. "I was fortunate to hear these, and to have known him.  We at VTD, and LAPD, are lesser because of this loss."

California Attorney General Kamala Harris issued a statement, extending her "heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Cortijo."

The Los Angeles Police Department and California’s entire law enforcement community have lost a brave and dedicated colleague," she wrote. "Officer Cortijo’s dedication to protect and serve the people of California will never be forgotten.”

Cortijo grew up in Southern California, served in the Marine Corps and returned to serve his city, Garcetti said.

Flowers now adorn the Valley Traffic Division lobby, where Cortijo's name will be added to a tribute for the fallen.

Cortijo died after suffering critical injuries on Saturday. He was hit by an SUV while he was stopped at a red light at Saticoy Street and Lankershim Boulevard. The collision pinned him between the SUV and the vehicle in front of him.

Qaneak Shaney Cobb, 33, of Pacoima was charged Tuesday with one felony count each of driving under the influence of a drug causing injury and possession of a controlled substance, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. She pleaded not guilty.

Cobb, who has prior convictions for grand theft and drug possession, faces more than 10 years in state prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

The District Attorney is weighing whether to upgrade the charges against her.

On Monday, the officer was in a medically induced coma at Providence, where a large turnout of people from across Southern California showed up that day to donate blood in his honor.

The Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union has opened a donation account to support Cortijo's family. Those who would like to mail in a donation can write a check payable to "Blue Ribbon Trust for Christopher Cortijo" and send it to:

Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union
Attn: Blue Ribbon Christopher Cortijo
P.O. Box 10188
Van Nuys, CA 91410
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