On Thursday, Detroit Police Chief James Craig identified the officer killed in a car crash early this morning as 27-year-old James Hearn.
Hearn, a 4-year veteran of the force, was killed around 3:45 a.m. when the car he was driving swerved off of Woodward Avenue near State Fair Avenue and struck a streetlight or other pole, Craig said at a news conference. A woman in the passenger seat, who police identified as Hearn’s girlfriend but were not willing to name, was also killed, while his 11-year-old daughter survived.
The daughter was treated at a local hospital and released on Thursday morning.
Hearn’s 4 years and 5 months on the force were an example for “the ultimate community officer,” Craig said. The bulk of his tenure was spent at the 12th precinct and the remainder — the past year — at downtown services.
Hearn had been awarded a lifesaving citation for rushing into a burning building to save someone. This is among other accomplishments that he did. “James was exceptional, he did that,” Craig said. His absence would be “a loss to this department.”
Hearn also participated in the police department’s Team-Up program, in which officers work as assistant coaches on youth sports teams for a season.
His family was a police family. Hearn’s father was a 30-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department and his brother worked for a federal law enforcement agency.
It remains unclear what exactly caused the crash early Thursday morning. Craig said that Hearn may have been returning from a fishing trip with his daughter and had worked a long day on Wednesday, but declined to go through the details.
A witness at the scene, who happened to be a transit police officer, told investigators that the car had not been “traveling at a high rate of speed.” Craig stressed that the speed “was not excessive.”
At least one airbag was deployed during the crash.
Hearn’s alma mater, Martin Luther King High School, will be holding a commemoration for the officer tonight. The police department said more information on this would be forthcoming.