Ala. detective dies responding to robbery
Officer Down: Detective Corporal Kenneth Armstrong - [Montgomery, Alabama]
He was making a U-turn when his vehicle was struck by another car.
End of Watch: Friday, August 17, 2007
Officer killed in wreck
By Andre Coe
Patrol Officer Naketa Steeley, who trained with Armstrong at the police academy, was one of hundreds of officers who arrived at Jackson Hospital, where Armstrong, 32, died of massive head trauma Friday morning.
Many of his colleagues wept.
"Police are people, too," Chief Arthur Baylor said.
Armstrong's patrol car collided with another vehicle as he made a U-turn on Union Street, responding to an armed robbery call.
Steeley said she had a gut feeling something was wrong with her friend as she listened to radio chatter early Friday morning and went to the accident scene.
"I was en route to another call and still didn't know if it was him," she said. "I just had a gut feeling to go."
When she got to the scene, she saw two individuals lying in the street, as well as Armstrong's vehicle and another vehicle. She could tell the collision had been horrifying. Armstrong's seatbelt was broken and he was lying in the back seat of his patrol car.
When she arrived at the hospital, she saw Armstrong in a neck brace.
But he was dead, she said.
Armstrong recently had been promoted to detective. Colleagues remembered him as someone who did his job well and always smiled.
Armstrong walked tall and set an example to others, Baylor said.
"Those are the kinds of people that we look for. You couldn't find anybody better than Cpl. Armstrong," he said. Baylor's voice trailed off before he shared a memory: When someone stole his mother-in-law's purse, Armstrong came to her aid.
"You know, he was a great officer," Baylor said.
Armstrong showed leadership early in his career. Colleagues elected him vice president of their academy class in 2004. He continued that leadership, said Capt. A.J. Hardy, assistant division commander.
"It hurts because you know what these guys believe in," Hardy said. "It's not the money, but the commitment to protect human life."
Armstrong was the second MPD officer to die in a traffic accident in less than a month. Officer Robert McCrory died in an accident on July 20 that occurred when he was off-duty.
The police department is asking the community to pray for Armstrong's family and its officers as well, Baylor said.
The robbery to which Armstrong was responding took place at 6:53 a.m. in the 3800 block of South Court Street, Baylor said.
Chauncey George, 19, turned himself in at police headquarters, where he was identified by two witnesses, and charged with first-degree robbery of the Stop-N-Go at 3804 S. Court St. A second suspect is at large, according to an MPD news release.
Mayor Bobby Bright said Armstrong died less than 30 minutes after being rushed to the hospital after suffering traumatic head injuries.
"It's another tragic event in the city," Bright said. "If I could change it, I would."
Copyright 2007 The Montgomery Advertiser