Memorial to Wayne C. Pitt

End of Watch:  April 10, 2007
Rank: Officer   Badge No. 3759
Age: 57   Years of Service: 4 years
Location of Death: Mt. Pleasant and Lamont streets, NW
Duty Assignment: Third District

 

Circumstance:

At approximately 9:15 pm on Friday, April 6, 2007, Officer Wayne Pitt was in his police vehicle blocking traffic for an Easter procession at Mt. Pleasant and Lamont streets, NW. Officer Pitt exited his vehicle to stop the operator of a motor scooter from crossing into the path of the procession when he realized his vehicle was still in gear. He reportedly attempted to jump back into the vehicle to bring it to a stop, but was still partially out of the car when it struck the scooter and a parked car, occupied by two people, and then striking a tree. The occupants of the car and motor scooter operator were not injured. However, Officer Pitt was taken to the Washington Hospital Center, where he underwent surgery for apparent internal injuries. Sadly, on April 10, 2007, Officer Pitt passed away due to complications from his injury.

Biography:

Officer Pitt was survived by his wife and stepson. A week prior to his death he pinned a badge on his stepson, now a rookie in the Durham Police Department. Pitt also is survived by an 18- year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

He was a 4-year-veteran, with the department’s Third District. Before joining the Metropolitan Police Department in May 2002, he was with the Durham Police Department in North Carolina for 20 years.

 

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE DEATH OF OFFICER WAYNE C. PITT
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 8, 2007, PAGE C3
OFFICER INJURED IN GOOD FRIDAY PROCESSION
A D.C. police officer was clinging to life last night after a freak mishap during a Good Friday procession on a Northwest Washington street, authorities said.

Officer Wayne Pitt was blocking traffic for the parade of worshipers shortly after 9 p.m. Friday when he realized that a motor scooter was about to breach a police line at Mount Pleasant and Lamont streets, police said. Pitt, 57, got out of his police cruiser to stop the scooter operator but realized that he had left his car in gear, police said. What followed is still under investigation.

Police believe that Pitt rushed back to the car to try to put it in park but that the vehicle continued forward, striking the scooter, a parked car and finally a tree.

Pitt was hurt, but the extent of his injuries did not become clear until yesterday, when he underwent additional surgery at Washington Hospital Center, police said.

The officer is in “very critical condition,” Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman, said last night. Pitt, assigned to the 3rd Police District, has been a D.C. officer for almost five years. He was a police officer in North Carolina for 20 years.

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who represents the area where the officer was injured, said that once again, impatience appeared to be at the root of a traffic accident in the District. “There are just too many people on the street who won’t slow down,” Graham said.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who went to meet with Pitt’s family, said the department hopes for the best. “We pray for his full recovery,” she said in a statement.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 12, 2007, PAGE B4
POLICE MOURN OFFICER IN GOOD FRIDAY ACCIDENT; ‘ROLE MODEL’ FOR COLLEAGUES IS SALUTED.

The flag at the Mount Pleasant police substation in Northwest Washington was at half-staff yesterday, as D.C. police mourned the passing of one of their own.

Officer Wayne Pitt, a four-year member, had been hospitalized in serious condition after a traffic accident during a Good Friday procession. Yesterday morning, after life support was removed, he died with his family by his side.

Pitt, 57, had been a police officer since 1986, starting his career in Durham, N.C. He was an investigator focusing on youth crime when he left that force five years ago to join the D.C. police. He was assigned to the 3rd District, where he was one of two officers in the Mount Pleasant area assigned to carry cellphones to be reachable by the public.

“He was an excellent officer with a long and distinguished career,” said D.C. police Inspector Patrick Burke. “With his age and experience, working the evening shift, he was a good role model for the younger officers. He will be missed.”

At the tiny substation, in the 700 block of Park Place NW, three photographs of Pitt smiling were attached to a bulletin board in the lobby. He was the second officer from the substation to die during a traffic incident in just over a year.

In March 2006, Sgt. Gerard W. Burke Jr. was trailing a stolen police car on his day off as he headed to catch a plane. As he spoke with dispatchers, Burke, 39, ruptured a major blood vessel, crashed his SUV and later died.

Pitt’s accident took place shortly after 9 p.m. Friday at Mount Pleasant and Kilbourne streets NW, and police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened. He was blocking traffic for a procession of worshipers when he realized that a motor scooter was about to cut into the path of the procession, police said. Pitt got out of his cruiser to stop the scooter operator but somehow had left his car in gear.

Police believe that Pitt rushed back to his car to try to put it in park but never got fully inside the vehicle. The police car continued forward, striking the scooter, a parked car and finally a tree. He was rushed to surgery at Washington Hospital Center for internal injuries. No one else was injured.

Those who worked with him remembered Pitt fondly yesterday. “He was a really, really good guy,” Officer Israel James said. “He would never say no to a citizen or a fellow officer if it was something he could do for them.”

Pitt’s wife, contacted by phone yesterday, said she was too distraught to talk.

Just last week, Pitt had pinned a badge on his stepson, now a rookie in the Durham Police Department, said D.C. police Cmdr. Larry McCoy, who heads the 3rd District. Pitt also is survived by an 18- year-old daughter from a previous marriage who attends college in North Carolina, McCoy said.

Cammie Michael, a public information officer for Durham police, said officers there were upset to learn of Pitt’s death. “He was a very conscientious investigator who took his job seriously,” Michael said. “He was a really nice man.”

A vigil in his memory will take place Friday at 8 p.m., at Mount Pleasant and Kilbourne.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 19, 2007, PAGE DE3
MOUNT PLEASANT GRIEVES FOR A POPULAR PATROLMAN; CANDLELIGHT VIGIL DRAWS CROWD OF 300.

In 3 1/2 years of patrolling the streets of Mount Pleasant, D.C. police officers Wayne Pitt and Ivan Quiles taught each other a lot.

Quiles, who had been an officer in Puerto Rico, helped Pitt learn Spanish so that he could better understand the neighborhood’s many Latino residents. Pitt, who joined the D.C. force after a 20-year career with the Raleigh-Durham Police Department, gave his protégé the wisdom of patience.

“Arrest is not always the answer,” Quiles said. “Patience is something you get with time, with the experience.”
Quiles’s time with his partner came to an end last week. Pitt died several days after suffering internal injuries in a freak mishap during a Good Friday procession in the neighborhood he patrolled.

Last Friday night, about 300 police officers, community residents and activists joined a somber march to mourn Pitt and to commemorate his dedication to the neighborhood.

“We walked these streets where Wayne walked on patrol. This was an officer who was continually trying to improve himself and do better,” said Cmdr. Larry McCoy, his supervisor.

McCoy said the 57-year-old officer, who joined the force nearly five years ago, could have been content to find an easy duty and ride it out to retirement. But instead he passed the sergeant’s exam and asked to become an investigator.

Laurie Collins, a neighborhood activist, said Pitt was one of two officers who carried a cellphone as part of Mount Pleasant’s “Live Link” program, which helps residents and business owners connect with officers on the beat. Collins said Pitt was at first reluctant, but within a matter of minutes became an enthusiastic participant.

“We in this community loved and cared about him,” she said.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Police Chief Cathy Lanier and D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) also praised Pitt’s service and dedication to the neighborhood.

“There’s nothing like a policeman who will do 20 years in one place and then come and do it in another,” Lanier said. “This community is like no other. They will always remember Officer Pitt.”

Pitt was injured after he jumped out of his patrol car to stop a motor scooter driver from crossing into the path of marchers during a Good Friday procession. The officer then noticed the car was in gear and tried to jump back into it.

He apparently was partially out of the car when it struck the scooter and a parked car and then slammed into a tree. Pitt was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he underwent surgery. He died April 11, five days after the accident.
Quiles said Pitt dreamed of retiring and traveling the world with his wife, hoping to use the Spanish lessons his partner was teaching him. Instead, Quiles will now patrol without his partner and friend. “His memory is going to be with me and all the people on the streets,” Quiles said. “He was a good man; he had good intentions. I’m going to miss him.”