AUSTIN (KXAN) - Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron, a father of two young daughters died in the line of duty early Friday morning responding to a call of an intoxicated man at a North Austin Walmart.
Padron, 40, never even had the chance to take his gun out of his holster.
"It's with a heavy heart that I have to report that we've lost a police officer this morning," said Chief Art Acevedo. "I can tell you from my experience with him, we've lost a really good, solid human being today. And it's a loss for the city."
Padron was a three-year veteran of the Austin Police Department who also served 14 years in the San Angelo Police Department and with the law enforcement agency at Austin-Bergrstrom International Airport.
He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed in both Gulf wars, Acevedo said.
At an emotional news conference late Friday afternoon at police headquarters, Acevedo praised the fallen officer as a family man and a consummate professional.
"He was special," the chief said. "He was quick to smile. ... I don't think he ever had a bad day."
Acevedo choked back tears as he told of Padron's two daughters, ages 6 and 10, as he described their father as "our hero.".
"Those little girls -- when they grow up -- are going to have evidence that their dad was a hero," he said.
How to help
The nonprofit 100 Club of Central Texas has set up fund to assist Officer Padron's family
The Officer Down Memorial Page already has an excerpt on its Web page, with dozens of reflections about the man many are calling a hero.
"God bless our department and all that they do. My prayers especially for my fellow dispatchers who handled this call last night. You too, are my heroes.
"Another senseless loss. We love you Jaime.
April 6, 2012 "
City Manager Marc Ott and Acevedo delivered the news to Padron's children, ages 10 and 6, and ex-wife soon after it happened. The chief said the family is extremely distraught with the news that came very early Friday morning.
"It's a tragedy on Good Friday to lose an officer like this, but it's part of what these men and women do," said Acevedo, addressing the media at 6 a.m. "They know when they become police officers that this is ultimately the sacrifice they are willing to make."
And perhaps the most powerful moment came when dozens of fellow brothers in blue lined up on either side of a police vehicle and ambulance in front of the store, standing in salute when Padron's body was loaded into the vehicle and taken away.
"He was an outstanding cop, and it always seems that -- we're not perfect, but -- it seems that when we lose an officer, it's always the best of the best," said Acevedo. "Because they're the ones when the call comes out, they don't hesitate."
Familiar with the strong ties of a tight-knit police family, Travis County sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene around 5:30 a.m. to offer their condolences to the department.
"We've come together as a family," said Acevedo. "It will be tough these next few days, but as I told and we told our officer's family: They are not alone."
The chief has reached out to the family in support.
"Most importantly, our city, our community will stand with this family. And we'll make sure those two little girls who just lost their father tonight, through no fault of his own, that they are raised the way they need to be raised and their needs will be met," he said.
"At time like this, it's important to close the ranks and look out for each other," said Ott.
All the while, many are jarred by the fact Padron lost his life over what appeared to be a routine call.
"Man, this is a routine call. What makes our jobs deadly is there is no such thing as routine, and at any moment you can go from being stopped at a red light to being engaged in a fight for your life," said Acevedo.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Padron leaves behind parents and family in San Angelo.
He was a member of the Austin Police Association Board of Directors representing the Northeast Area command, a board on which Hipolito also served.
Before serving on the force, he worked for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport police as part of the emergency management department that consolidated with APD in 2009. Before that, Padron was on the San Angelo Police Department for 14 years.
Timeline of events
- 2:20 a.m.: 911 call from Walmart employee about drunk man wandering around the store
- 2:21 a.m.: Officers are dispatched
- 2:29 a.m.: First officer arrives
- 2:44 a.m.: Officer is pronounced dead
Dispatched to an intoxicated man at Walmart early Friday morning, Padron was the first to arrive nine minutes after the call came out.
The 24-year-old suspect, Brandon Montgomery Daniel, allegedly immediately started fighting with him, pulled out a semiautomatic pistol and shot Padron at point blank in the neck area.
Padron was able to radio for help, saying he had been shot. Another officer arrived and took Daniel into custody after Walmart employees were able to take him down and disarm him.
The officer began administering CPR to Padron.
"Despite the valiant efforts of our officer who started CPR, and EMS, the officer succumbed to his injury and was pronounced at the scene at 2:44 a.m.," said Acevedo.
Daniel is charged with capital murder, and he already has a criminal history including a DWI charge from February. For that charge, he had a court appearance scheduled in just six days.
Meanwhile, Acevedo said he's sure Walmart surveillance cameras captured the incident unfolding.
"I'm confident we will have very dramatic video of this confrontation," he said.
That will be in addition to audio from Padron's dash cam recording device.
"We'll all work together to put together a case to present to a grand jury in this community and hopefully to a jury that will hold this person accountable for taking the life of an officer who was simply trying to do his job and keeping this community safe," said Acevedo.
The deadly shooting early Friday morning came seven hours after another officer-involved shooting in East Austin that ended in the death of a suspect and the officer involved hospitalized with injuries. The shootings are two completely separate incidents.
Acevedo said that officer came very close to losing his life and that he is thankful we are not talking about two dead officers Friday morning.
"Imagine two officer-involved shootings in one night," said Acevedo. "Our city is changing, and we just have to understand that we have to be cautious, and we have to be aware that as we continue to grow we are going to have challenges."
Fallen officer in 2004
It has been eight years since an Austin police office died in the line of duty. Amy Donovan was killed in October 2004 after being hit by a patrol car.
Donovan was on foot chasing Nicholas Jarmon when her rookie partner accidentally struck her with their patrol car.
Because of Donovan's death, APD changed its rookie policy so that two rookie officers are not working together.
In 2009, the Legislature considered enacting stronger penalties for those who run from police, but the measure did not pass.
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