Mentor, OH – Mentor Police Officer Mathew Mazany was killed in the line of duty by a hit-and-run driver early Sunday morning, city officials announced on Monday.
Officer Mazany, 41, was assisting another Mentor police officer with an arrest during a traffic stop on State Route 2 at approximately 1 a.m. on June 24, when a motorist struck the initial officer’s patrol vehicle, Mentor City Manager and Safety Director Kenneth Filipiak said during a Monday morning press conference.
The motorist then slammed into Officer Mazany, and fled the scene.
The injured officer was treated onsite by officers and emergency medical personnel before he was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Filipiak said.
The other officer was not injured in the collision, and the occupants of the vehicle involved in the initial traffic stop were treated for minor injuries, Mentor Police Chief Kevin Knight said during the press conference.
Using a partial license plate obtained from dashcam footage, investigators immediately began searching for the dark-colored Jeep Wrangler involved in the fatal collision, Chief Knight explained.
During the course of the investigation, a concerned citizen contacted police and reported having seen the damaged suspect vehicle parked in the Mentor Lagoons Marina.
Investigators contacted the registered owner of the Jeep and learned that the owner’s 24-year-old son, Brian Anthony, had borrowed the vehicle and had never returned home, the chief said.
The suspect’s father urged him to turn himself in to police and Anthony was taken into custody at the marina just after 9 a.m. on Sunday.
“We would like to note that when Anthony was placed under arrest, they used Officer Mazany’s handcuffs on him,” Chief Knight said.
Subsequent to his arrest, Anthony was taken to a local hospital for toxicology testing to help determine whether drugs or alcohol were contributing factors in the fatal collision.
He told investigators that he “wasn’t sure if he hit something,” Chief Knight said.
Anthony, who police said attempted to hide the vehicle, was charged with the felony offenses of leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence.
“Additional charges will be forthcoming depending on the results of the chemical tests that were administered at the hospital,” Chief Knight said.
Anthony was arraigned in Mentor Municipal Court following the press conference.
“We are very proud of, and grateful, to Matt Mazany for what he gave to this community,” Filipiak said. “Officer Mazany has served the Mentor Police Department with distinction for over 14 years.”
“It was his life ambition, since childhood, to become a police officer,” he added.
Chief Knight said that Officer Mazany “love the midnight shift,” and enjoyed working with younger officers.
The chief smiled as he described Officer Mazany’s “happy-go-lucky” personality.
“I think that is the best way to describe him,” Chief Knight said. “He came to work, did his job… enjoyed his cigars after work.”
Officer Mazany has received many letters from grateful residents over the years, and was the recipient of the department’s Exceptional Service award, Filipiak said.
“The job of police officers is inherently laden with risks, yet these brave men and woman accept that risk in service to their communities and the people they are sworn to protect,” the city manager said. “Despite this knowledge, we find ourselves shocked and heartbroken when a life is lost as a result of that service.”
“These very special public servants are truly among the best our society offers and our greatest, most selfless resource,” Filipiak added. “Patrolman Mathew Mazany will never be forgotten, nor will his sacrifice go unrecognized.”
Shortly after the fatal collision, Willoughby Fire Department Chief Todd Ungar issued a statement urging drivers to slow down and move over for police and emergency personnel working on the roadways.
“Having spent many years responding to incidents on local roads and freeways, it disgusts me how impatient drivers can be and completely disregard what is happening on the side of the road,” Chief Ungar wrote. “How many signs are on the road asking that you slow down and move over when you see flashing lights on the berm? Do you?”
“I’m tired of seeing signs dedicating that portion of the road to a trooper or police officer because they weren’t afforded a lane of protection or the courtesy of taking your foot off the gas for a short period of time,” the chief continued. “That’s why I’m angry. This hits too close to home, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the officer killed, the Mentor Police and Fire Departments, and the City of Mentor.”
In addition to the outpouring of assistance and support the department received from surrounding law enforcement agencies, Chief Knight said he was also thankful for the citizens of Mentor.
“We can’t [thank our residents enough] for the extreme amount of support we get on a daily basis,” he said.
Officer Mazany leaves behind his wife, Lisa, to whom he was married for 12 years, and his son, Mathew Joseph, Filipiak said.
He is also survived by his brother and father.
A Go Fund Me campaign has been established to assist Officer Mazany’s family.
On Sunday afternoon, many Mentor residents stopped by the police department to bring food, hang blue ribbons, and contribute to a Mentor police vehicle memorial.
“We just felt helpless,” Terri Pekarcik told WJW. “You know you want to do something, to pay your respects, and show your support to the officers you know his coworkers and his family.”
Long-time resident Paul Orlando said that he stopped by to pray for the family of the fallen hero, for his department, and for the Mentor community.
“We just thought we should come up and we saw the blue ribbons and the cross over there and just wanted to support Mentor where we live in particular and all law enforcement… they take risks so that the rest of us don’t have to,” Orlando said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mentor Police Officer Mathew Mazany, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Mathew Mazany, your life mattered.