Jeremy Bitner update: Private funeral for officer killed by drunk driver Conner Donohue
Update: Yesterday, the Englewood Police Department released details about the funeral service for Officer Jeremy Bitner, whose death in a crash involving alleged drunk driver Conner Donohue has stirred plenty of passions throughout the metro area; see our coverage below. Now, however, the EPD is announcing that the memorial services are limited to Bitner's family and friends, as well as first responders.
The same goes for his internment at Fort Logan. Bitner's loved ones have also asked that no media be allowed at the latter.
Here's our previous coverage.
Original item, followed by update: Yesterday, Englewood Police announced that Officer Jeremy Bitner had been taken off life support following a Sunday crash during which he and a second man were struck by another vehicle.
Adding to the Bitner family's pain: The driver who caused his death, twenty-year-old Conner Donohue, was allegedly drunk at the time of the crash.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, which is assisting the Englewood Police Department in the investigation of the incident, Bitner, behind the wheel of a fully marked Ford Crown Victoria police car, pulled over a Ford Mustang for a traffic infraction early Sunday morning. The cars parked in the right lane of southbound South Broadway near East Centennial Avenue.
Bitner and the Mustang's driver -- Kevin Montoya, twenty -- were standing near the left front fender of the police car when a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder heading south sideswiped the cruiser, striking both Bitner and Montoya before fleeing the scene.
Donohue, the Pathfinder's driver, managed to make it several miles before being stopped by an officer in another jurisdiction, Littleton. Details of that bust remain under wraps, but Donohue was arrested on two counts of vehicular assault, another two related to leaving the scene of an accident after causing serious bodily injury, and driving under the influence.
Meanwhile, Montoya and Bitner were both transported to Swedish Hospital. The former sustained serious injuries, but he's expected to survive. Bitner wasn't so fortunate.
The crash scene.
Described by 9News as an eight-year veteran of the department who'd previously served in Bosnia as a member of the U.S. Army, Bitner was married, with two children.
While it's clear that Bitner and Montoya could have chosen a safer place to stand, this fact in no way mitigates the pain being felt by fellow officers (Bitner is the first member of the Englewood force to die in the line of duty) or observers on websites such as Police Link and Sig Forum, whose vituperative comments blends notes of condolence with lines such as "Time to invoke the death penalty."
That won't happen -- but Donohue, who does not have an extensive police record, is being held on a $100,000 bond invoked by a judge yesterday. And it's not beyond the realm of possibility that more charges could follow in the wake of Bitner's passing.
Not that his alleged state at the time of his arrest was all that unusual. The Colorado State Patrol kicked off its "100 Days of Heat" DUI crackdown during Memorial Day weekend, and from Friday evening through Tuesday morning, troopers contacted 6,764 vehicles, leading to 93 arrests for drunken and/or drugged driving and 81 arrests for other violations, including five felonies. In addition, the CSP points out that two crashes killed three people, a couple of whom were not wearing their seatbelts.
Be careful out there.
Update, 10:12 a.m. May 30: The Englewood Police Department has released details about Officer Jeremy Bitner's funeral service. It will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, June 1, at the Denver First Church of the Nazarene, 3800 East Hampden. At 3 p.m., after the funeral concludes, a police procession will travel to Fort Logan Cemetery.
In addition, a memorial fund has been established for the Bitner family. Those who wish to donate to the fund can do so at the Belcro Credit Union or any Public Service Credit Union branch. Donations can also be mailed to:
The Belco Credit Union
c/o Officer Jeremy Bitner Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 17000
Denver, CO. 80217-7000
The account number is 591654637.
Look below to see Donohue's mug shot, followed by two 9News reports.
Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.
More from our News archive: "Sam Brownlee, first Weld County deputy killed in line of duty since 1940: Tributes pour in."