By Maricella Miranda
The St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A long week for police officers ended Friday when a Minneapolis Park Police officer died of injuries suffered when a squad car hit him during a short pursuit in a neighborhood alley more than a week ago.
The Parks Department believes Mark Bedard, 34, was the first Minneapolis park police officer to die in the line of duty since the agency's inception in 1883, said park police officer Ron Reier.
The injury occurred Nov. 1 when police got a call of shots fired in the vicinity of 27th Avenue North and Irving Avenue North in the city's Jordan neighborhood, said Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia III.
When officers arrived, they began following a car leaving the area.
Bedard started chasing the suspects on foot into yards and an alley. A marked Minneapolis Police Department squad car, which had two female officers in it, hit Bedard when he crossed into an alley.
An internal investigation is under way.
Park police officials would not give details of Bedard's injuries that led to his death, except to say he had "serious injuries." Bedard died at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
"It's been a tough week," said Park Police Chief Brad Johnson.
Groups of Minneapolis police officers had crowded around his hospital room since the incident, supporting his wife, Andrea, and their son, Nick.
"We had some hope," Johnson said. "Deep down, a lot of us realized even if he had survived, it would not have been the same Mark we had known. I'll remember Mark as a smiling guy."
Officers shared photos of Bedard, including a snapshot of him on a cold day in March plunging into Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis with his park police team for a Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser. In the photo, he rushes through the frigid water, waving his arms to gain more speed.
"He's a big, cuddly, teddy bear guy," Reier said.
Bedard became a park patrol agent 12 years ago for the Minneapolis Park Police, which includes 37 officers.
Two years later, the department promoted him to park officer. Bedard also was a shooting range instructor and worked on horse patrol. The Minneapolis native earned awards for his police work.
"Minneapolis has really lost a very good cop and a decent man," said Minneapolis Assistant Police Chief Sharon Lubinski.
Bedard attended Minnehaha Academy and Augsburg College.
He married his wife in 2001.
Andrea Bedard carried her son in her arms Friday as she spoke of her husband.
"Mark was a great husband and a wonderful father," she said.
"Our family is very appreciative of the love and support that we have received," she said. "As you continue to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers, please remember the other officers who were involved in this tragedy."
After the incident, Patricia Grant and Patricia Annoni, the officers in the squad car, went on administrative leave - a standard policy when an officer is injured. Grant opted to take additional time off from work. Annoni has returned to work.
Police officials did not know how long the internal investigation would take.
"We're taking a hard look at this," Lubinski said. "We're taking it very, very seriously."
Funeral arrangements are being planned for next week.
Copyright 2007 St. Paul Pioneer Press
Minn. officer dies in pursuit crash