A drunk driver who hit and killed Fort Worth Police Officer Dwayne Freeto is coming up for parole review early next year.
"So around these times of the holiday when we should be festive, that pain does set in," said fellow Fort Worth Police Officer and friend Cliff Miller. "I remember his face and I remember what he stood for."
Freeto had been an officer for only a few months when he pulled over to help a stranded driver along Interstate 35W on Dec. 17, 2006. Samuel Hillburn, who had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit, crashed into Freeto's patrol car, killing him.
"So many nights, so many times, we wish it hadn't happened, but it did," said Miller, who graduated in the same police academy class as Freeto. "We have to pick ourselves up, move on, and hopefully we can take learning lessons from that."
Miller said the upcoming parole hearing, and the years Freeto's family has lived without him, are reminders of the consequences of drinking and driving.
Miller said while there are many in the police department who believe Hillburn should serve his full prison term until 2021, he is leaving it to his faith.
"That's the dilemma again. Humanity, compassion, forgiveness," Miller said. "Where does it lie? Who is the person to decide, to determine that?"
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Hillburn was denied parole last year. He is up for review again in April.