Calif. officer killed while off duty

Sarah Jimenez and Tim Eberly
Fresno Bee
Copyright 2006 McClatchy Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved 

A 10-year Fresno police officer known affectionately as "Pug" died Saturday in an off-duty collision with a suspected drunken driver in Visalia.

Edward Brett Chan, 48, was riding a 2004 Ducati motorcycle west on Walnut Avenue near Lovers Lane at 7 p.m., according to the Visalia Police Department.

He collided with a 1999 Chrysler Sebring driven by Gilberto Barrera, 30, that traveled into his path while trying to turn left into a gas station parking lot, police said.

Chan suffered major internal injuries and was taken to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. He was later transferred to University Medical Center in Fresno, where he died about 10 p.m., according to a Fresno police statement.

Barrera, of Visalia, was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving and gross vehicular manslaughter. He was booked into the Tulare County Jail.

Chan, who lived in Visalia, was assigned to the Fresno Police Department's training bureau. Before that, he worked with the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium, known as MAGEC, the now-defunct Violent Crime Suppression Unit and the Southwest District Crime Suppression Team.

"It is a sad day for the Fresno Police Department family as we have lost one of our cherished officers," Chief Jerry Dyer said in the statement. "Brett was a loved and respected member of our police department and he will be deeply missed. We ask the community to keep the Chan family in their prayers."

Jaime Campos, a Fresno police officer, worked alongside Chan on the same district crime suppression team in 2003 and 2004, and the two sometimes were partners.

Chan, nicknamed "Pug" for his short and stocky stature, was known for his tactical experience in dealing with incidents such as suspects who barricaded themselves inside homes, Campos said.

"He came in with a lot of knowledge in tactics," Campos said. "We were always hitting him up with questions."

Campos said Chan, despite being an older officer, still wanted to be in the middle of the action. When they doubled up in the same patrol car, Campos said he and Chan often headed into rough neighborhoods to investigate gang members.

"He's still going after these people," Campos said. "At that age, people like to slow down. But not Brett."

Once, Campos and Chan were conducting surveillance on a suspected drug dealer, watching him from a nearby orchard. Using night-vision goggles, they discovered the suspect hid his crack cocaine in a man-made hole in a tree, Campos said.

Chan took off and soon returned with several cars full of officers, Campos said. They swooped in, arrested three suspects and seized an ounce of crack cocaine.

"We were just giving high fives when we got the dope and everything," Campos said. "It was a good night because we had put so much effort in this case."

Campos said Chan talked about riding motorcycles with other officers who shared the hobby.

"He loved motorcycles. That was his passion," Campos said. "He was always talking about bikes."

Word of Chan's death spread quickly Saturday night among the police community. Campos got a phone call while watching a boxing match at a cousin's house.

"My heart just sunk, because I talked to him last week," Campos said. "It's heartbreaking. It's hard to believe a good man's gone -- good man, good friend."

Chan had been in the training bureau for the past year or so, instructing officers in the use of force, weapons and tactical maneuvers. He told Campos that he liked the assignment, and was done working the streets.

He had spent 17 years with the Lemoore and Visalia police departments before working in Fresno. He also served in the U.S. Marines and was honorably discharged.

Chan is survived by his mother, two sons and a daughter, according to the Fresno Police Department. Funeral arrangements were not made public Sunday.

The reporters can be reached at sjimenez@fresnobee.com, teberly@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6330. 
July 17, 2006

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