The death of Ohio Highway Patrol trooper Ken Velez has led the FOX 8 I-Team to investigate the dangers on the highways police deal with no matter how they enforce traffic laws.
Investigators say trooper Velez was checking speeds with a laser gun, and as he tried to wave over a driver, another driver plowed into Velez and killed him. Sources tell the I-Team, the first driver hit the brakes, and then Joshua Gaspar swerved and hit the trooper.
Some officers prefer waving over drivers on the highway while enforcing speeds. Others prefer chasing down a speeder with a patrol car. Either way can be risky and even deadly.
Retired Cleveland officer Jim Simone says he’s written 100,000 tickets in his career. And he says he’s pulled people over by waving them to the side and by pulling them over in his patrol car. And Simone says multiple times, he was hit by drivers and left injured.
Simone told the I TEAM, "There's no such thing as safety when you're doing traffic enforcement. So there really is no defense against an impaired person driving a vehicle, whether it's impaired through alcohol or drugs."
In the case of trooper Velez, investigators say Gaspar was driving high on drugs.
Officers say most drivers flagged down do follow orders, but even stops in patrol cars can be hazardous.
Often with patrol cars, police will angle their cars, and even the wheels, so that if someone crashes into the police car during the traffic stop, the car will get pushed toward the highway and not the car the officer just pulled over.
But in the end, there’s no golden rule to make traffic enforcement 100% safe.
Sadly, the death of trooper Velez adds to the proof.