Friends, family, and fellow officers honor fallen Mesa PD office - Dallas News |

Wrong-way driver was drunk, fallen Mesa PD sergeant remembered

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Investigators released new details about the wrong-way driver who crashed into Officer Brandon Mendoza, killing himself and the off-duty Mesa police officer in a head-on collision.

Maricopa County officials say 42-year-old Raul Silva Corona was driving drunk on valley freeways for more than 30 miles. Homeland Security confirms Corona was in the country illegally.

In radio dispatch recordings released today, operators and at least half a dozen Department of Public Safety officers are heard scrambling to stop the driver before the fatal crash.

At one point officers asked for help, saying, "Can we see if we can get some assistance from Tempe?" An officer responds, "We are stuck on a shooting. We can't head that way."

Corona had a blood alcohol content level of .238, nearly three times the legal limit. Investigators say he evaded officers, before making it to the U.S. 60 interchange where he slammed into Mendoza, killing himself and the 13-year police veteran.

A viewing and mass was held on Thursday night for friends and family to pay their last respects in private.

Mendoza also received a big honor from Mesa police. It was announced that Officer Mendoza had been posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.

He had recently complete his sergeant certification just before he died.

Officer Mendoza's funeral was held Friday morning at 10 a.m. at All Saints Catholic Church in Mesa. Following the service there was a procession to Queen Of Heaven Cemetery in Mesa for burial.

There were many attendees at the funeral for Mendoza, who was born and raised here in the valley.

"I knew what a great cop he was, truly a modern day beat cop," said Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead.  "Took care of the people he served in this area."

Mendoza was remembered for his kindness and courage. 

"Albeit it was stolen from him personally, that moment should not have been stolen from the family or from the department, so last night to posthumously promote him and to present him as Sgt. Brandon Mendoza will be a high point in my career," said Milstead.  "He was the cheer leader, he was the one that was always saying you could do this.."

Sgt. Diana Tapia Williams graduated from the police academy with Mendoza 13 years ago.

"He always did well.  I was always the last one on the run and always encouraged me and trying to lead his team with his squad," she said.

Mendoza was also known for volunteering.  He helped rebuild a neighborhood park, making sure the kids got playground equipment.  He rescued a dog he found tied to a tree and bought Christmas gifts and Thanksgiving turkeys for needy families.

"He was not a one dimensional guy.  He gave everything here, but he gave everything that he had to other people," said Milstead.

Last call:
"The citizens and the city of Mesa are in your debt for your 13 years of service in the Mesa Police Department.  This is your final assignment.  Officer Brandon Michael Mendoza may you rest in peace."

Road Closures:

6:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
•    McLellan – Recker to 59th Street
•    WB traffic will detour NB – SB onto Recker
•    EB  traffic will detour NB onto 59th Street

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon (approx.)
•    SB Recker at Mclellan
•    SB traffic will detour EB onto Mclellan

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (approx.)
•    WB Baseline to Stapley
•    WB traffic will detour NB – SB onto Gilbert Rd.

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (approx.)
•    Harris – Baseline to Juanita
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