A Dallas police officer was hit and killed by a suspected intoxicated driver early Saturday morning while directing traffic around an accident on the highway.
At around 1:45 a.m., Officer Mitchell Penton was securing traffic with the emergency lights from his squad car on after an accident in the northbound lanes of North Central Expressway at Walnut Hill Lane.
Police said 32-year-old Phillip Mabry was driving a Kia Forte at a high speed and hit the back of Penton's squad car, which pushed the car into Penton.
Penton was taken to Baylor University Medical Center, where he died.
Police said Mabry was found to be intoxicated. He faces a charge of intoxication manslaughter on a police officer and intoxication assault in connection with the passenger who was in his vehicle.
Medical staff assessed and released Mabry. His passenger was taken to a local hospital for trauma to her chest area and a laceration on her face.
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Police said slick and icy roads were not a factor in the crash, and the roadway reopened later Saturday morning.
Penton leaves behind a wife who is pregnant with their first child, Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said.
Penton was hired in February 2019 and was assigned to the northeast patrol division, according to the police department.
"Our hearts are heavy right now," Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia said. "This young officer had such a bright future ahead of him. We asked 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."
Penton attended Rodgers State University in Claremore, Okla., and graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in justice administration, according to the school
He had also been a member of the university's men's soccer team and began his collegiate career in the sport in 2011.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mitch. In our program we always talk about our Hillcat Family," men's soccer Coach Derek Larkin said in a written statement. "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.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a written statement that Dallas was mourning the officer'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. And this officer dedicated his time to serving our great city in an inherently dangerous job," Johnson said. "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.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement Saturday morning on the death of the Dallas officer:
“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," said Governor Abbott. "This terrible loss is a solemn reminder of the risks our brave law enforcement officers face while serving and protecting our communities. Cecilia and I ask our fellow Texans to join us in lifting up the officer's family and the entire Dallas Police Department in prayer during this difficult time."
Dallas City Council member Carolyn King Arnold released the following statement Saturday.
"I would like to express my sincere thoughts, prayers, and sympathy to the family of Dallas Police Officer Mitchell Penton #11654. Our hearts are deeply saddened by this tragedy and we extend our prayers to Chief Eddie Garcia, the Northeast Patrol Division, and the entire Dallas Police Department family for the loss of their fellow officer. We thank him for his decision to commit to public service and safety in the city of Dallas. We thank him and his family for their sacrifice. May God bless his family and the Dallas Police Department."