Round Rock, TX – Round Rock Police Officer Charles Whites succumbed to his injuries on Friday, after being struck by an impaired driver while directing traffic in February.
The incident happened after Round Rock Police Department received a report that a person was walking near Interstate 35 at approximately 5:27 a.m. on Feb. 25, KEYE reported.
They arrived to find the body of 25-year-old Amir Azad lying dead in the roadway.
Officer Whites, 63, arrived at the scene of the crash to direct traffic around the site, the Statesman reported.
Raul Martinez, 65, came upon the crash, and struck Officer Whites with his vehicle.
Martinez later told investigators that Officer Whites attempted to signal to him to drive around the scene by waving his flashlight, but that he was unable to react in time.
He said he hit “something,” before he stopped his vehicle approximately 100 yards later, the Statesman reported.
Investigators later learned that Martinez was under the influence of at least twice the prescribed amount of central nervous system depressant, Gabapentin, at the time of the collision.
He displayed lethargic movements and slow speech during field sobriety testing, KEYE reported.
Officer Whites was rushed to a local hospital with broken ribs, bleeding on his brain, and a collapsed lung.
He remained in grave condition, and succumbed to his injuries at a hospice care facility on Friday, KIII-TV reported.
“We are devastated by the passing of Officer Charles Whites,” Chief Allen Banks told the Statesman. “Our heart breaks for Connie and all of Charles’ family.”
Chief Banks thanked the fallen hero’s fellow officers and the Round Rock community for their support.
“Charles was a great officer and an even better person,” the chief said. “The past two months have shown how strong and close-knit we are as a department. The support we’ve received from the Round Rock community, surrounding communities, and regional first responders has been inspiring.”
“We will continue to lean on this strength and support as we remember Charles and honor his many years of public service,” Chief Banks added.
He noted that Officer Whites was a “problem solver” who “loved to de-escalate situations.”
“For a 63-year-old officer to still be on the streets is amazing,” the chief said.
Officer Whites, a 19-year veteran of the department, worked as a field training officer, SWAT negotiator, and patrol officer during his career, according to his obituary.
He previously managed the Wilderness Whitewater Supply Company before fulfilling his “long-time dream” of becoming a sworn law enforcement officer.
“[Officer] Whites was most known for his calm demeanor and passion for the job,” his obituary read. “[He was] a veteran lawman who just loved being out on the streets, patrolling his beloved community. He was a well-respected Officer among his peers and the citizens he served. Those who met him felt an instant connection and trust.”
Officer Whites leaves behind his wife, Connie, and his stepson, William Mannella.
He will be laid to rest on Wednesday.
Martinez was charged with intoxication assault, and iss being held on $500,000 bond, KEYE reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Round Rock Police Officer Charles Whites, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.