Tempe, AZ – Phoenix Police Department (PPD) Officer Robert “DJ” Bryant died on July 29, one day after he collapsed during the running portion of an Arizona Army National Guard test.
Officer Bryant, a Second Lieutenant assigned to the 850th Military Police Battalion at Papago Park Military Reservation, was participating in the testing at Tempe Town Lake in preparation for the Basic Officer Leader Course, KTVK reported.
He experienced a medical event and collapsed during his run on July 28, and was immediately tended to by a medic who was already present at the scene.
Officer Bryant, 23, was then rushed to Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital, where he passed away the following morning, KTVK reported.
The exact cause of the young officer’s death remains under investigation.
“The members of PLEA are saddened at the loss of our Brother,” the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) told KTVK in a statement. “DJ Bryant was a young man of outstanding character who had dedicated his life to service of his country and community. We pray that his family finds strength during this time of loss.”
Officer Bryant served with PPD for three years.
He began his military career at the age of 17, and served as a military police officer for six years, KTVK reported.
He commissioned through the Arizona State University Reserve Officer Training Course in 2019, according to KPNX.
Officer Bryant was awarded the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal.
He was also the recipient of the National Guard’s Minuteman scholarship.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Lieutenant Bryant,” Arizona Army National Guard Land Component Commander U.S. Army Brigade General Joseph Baldwin told KTVK. “It is always painful to lose one of our own because we are not just Soldiers, but members of the community, so when we hurt the whole community hurts.”
He said Officer Bryant was a “very motivated soldier” and a “well-respected officer,” KTVK reported.
PPD Sergeant Jon Scott said during a press conference on Friday that he felt lucky to have been Officer Bryant’s supervisor for the past seven months.
“He was a shining star,” Sgt. Scott said. “There’s no other way I can really put it…You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
“By the age of 21, he already enlisted in the Army, joined the ROTC program at ASU, got his bachelor’s [degree], and became a police officer,” he continued. “It just shows you how driven of a person…that he was.”
Sgt. Scott said that he would be proud if his two sons grow up to be like Officer Bryant.
Although he was young and had only a few years on the job, other officers trusted him and went to him for guidance, Sgt. Scott said.
“He always knew he wanted to be a police officer,” the sergeant added. “It’s a tragic loss…he’s going to be missed tremendously.”
Officer Bryant was planning to propose to his girlfriend, according to Sgt. Scott.
He also leaves behind a large family.
— Phoenix Police (@PhoenixPolice) July 30, 2020
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 30, 2020
All city of #PHX flags are flying at half-staff until sunset today in honor of Phoenix Police Officer Robert Dwayne Bryant, Jr.
Officer Bryant passed away yesterday after suffering a medical event while training this week with the Arizona National Guard. pic.twitter.com/nuS7UPHZEL
— City of Phoenix, AZ (@CityofPhoenixAZ) July 31, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Phoenix Police Department Officer Robert “DJ” Bryant, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.