Kent Police Officer Diego Moreno – killed Sunday in the line of duty when struck by another officer’s vehicle – never hesitated to take his job to a higher level.
In April 2017, Moreno responded to a call about a person who was unresponsive after an opioid overdose and didn’t have a pulse. Moreno administered life-saving drugs and hooked up a defibrillator even before the fire department arrived.
“He single-handedly saved this resident’s life,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said at a Monday press conference outside the Police Station about the eight-year veteran of the department.
In 2011, Moreno responded to a call about a child drowning. He found the pool, jumped a fence, located the child who had been in the pool for a two to three minutes and was unresponsive.
“Officer Moreno began chest compressions and saved that child’s life,” Ralph said.
Moreno, 35, of Auburn, received awards from the police chief in each case and was honored in front of the City Council.
Ralph fought back tears as she told a story about her personal experience with Moreno, who went the extra mile at the annual Shop With a Cop holiday event at Target for economically disadvantaged children.
“Diego never missed one of these events,” Ralph said about the five-year program. “He would work his graveyard shift – we all know how busy that is – nonstop all night long, and then he would show up at Target in the morning, be paired with a child and spend the morning shopping with them to make sure they got the Christmas they deserve.
“Last year the child he was paired with got up to the checkout line with his basket full and didn’t have enough on the gift card (provided by the program) to get everything he wanted. Officer Moreno pulled out his wallet and paid for the things that child had picked out.
“That’s the type of person he was. The type of public servant that Officer Moreno was. He worked long hours to keep us all save. He gave up his own money for the kids in our community to make sure that they felt loved and compassion and knew that they belonged here.
“The legacy that Officer Moreno leaves with our community is indescribable – the type of husband, father and police officer he was. There is a huge hole in our hearts, and it’s felt across the entire community, in the lives of every city employee and parts of every member of our police family.”
People continued on Monday to place flowers and cards outside police headquarters next to City Hall along Fourth Avenue. People also brought food to the department.
“It’s been a very difficult time for our police department, our officers and their families,” Police Chief Rafael Padilla said at the press conference.
Second officer to die in the line of duty
Moreno is only the second Kent Police officer to die in the line of duty.
On April 10, 1908 Town Marshal Harry Miller died after a shootout with five men who had robbed a man in Orilla (now SeaTac) and were headed toward town, according to newspaper reports. Miller met the men at the city train depot and ordered them to put their hands up, but the men shot Miller. Despite the injuries, Miller dragged himself to a nearby saloon and described the robbers before he died.
The men were eventually caught, and two served life sentences for first-degree murder at McNeil Island State Penitentiary.
The Kent Police Department honored Miller in 2008 with a 350-pound memorial stone that sits in the southwest corner of the police vehicle parking lot. The stone includes the name of Harry Miller as well as the names of Kent Police officers Terry Orr and Greg Duffin. Orr died from cancer in 2003 after six years as an officer. Duffin died from cancer in 2007 after 12 years as an officer.
Vigil, service set for Moreno
The city will host a community vigil at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, at Town Square Plaza, Second Avenue and West Harrison Street, to honor Moreno.
A service for Moreno is planned for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31, at the accesso ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St. All are welcome at the vigil and service.
Moreno is survived by his wife Shelly and two young children, Adrian and Peyton.
For those who want to donate money to the family, an account will be set up through U.S Bank, Padilla said.
Friends/relatives of the family also set up a GoFundMe online account for Shelly Moreno and her children.