Vigil held for Chandler police officer killed Friday
Friends and family of a Chandler police officer killed Friday by a suspected drunk driver held a vigil Saturday evening at the intersection where he died.
The death of David Payne, 37, who police said was rear-ended by an impaired driver at Chandler Boulevard and Pennington Drive, was the second line-of-duty death in four days of a Chandler Police Department officer.
Chandler Officer Bryant Holmes was struck at a Gilbert intersection on Tuesday while riding his motorcycle to work. Gilbert police said he was hit by a 20-year-old man who ran a red light while driving a Jeep Cherokee.
The driver involved in Friday’s collision with Payne, 31-year-old Brian Yazzie, was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
Tino Martinez, the brother of Payne’s girlfriend, 35-year-old Flor Martinez, said the couple was picking out a name for their unborn son, who is due in a matter of weeks.
After Payne’s tragic death on Friday, Martinez said his sister has decided to name the boy David Payne Jr.
“That’s his legacy right there,” he said, referring to the child.
About 30 people turned out for the vigil Saturday evening. It was held across the street from a sign commemorating the death of another Chandler police officer, Robert Nielsen, who was killed on June 12, 2002, when his patrol car and another vehicle collided at that intersection.
Those who attended the vigil added to the collection of balloons, flowers and candles that have been left on the southwestern corner of the intersection since Payne was struck.
Pat Carrasco, who said she is Flor Martinez’s aunt, said she would make sure to tell her soon-to-be-born nephew about his father.
“I’ll tell him his father was a hero,” Carrasco said. “He was a very special person, and even though he isn’t here with us, he’ll always be around to guide him.”
“It’s horrible,” said Liliana Vasquez, a friend of Payne who came to light a candle at the memorial. “It’s just so shocking to me.”
Vasquez plans to attend the police academy and become an officer, and Payne had taken her on ridealongs.
Vasquez said Payne had become far more than a mentor. Their daughters played together, and he was becoming one of her best friends.
“He was awesome,” she said.
Two accounts have been set up for the families of Payne and Holmes, and donors can make contributions at any branch office of Arizona Bank and Trust, according to a police spokesman.
Officer David Payne, Account 9361089137, Family Support Group Inc., Fallen Officer Support Fund; and Officer Bryant Holmes, Account 9361089057.