MILWAUKEE — Racine was not the only Wisconsin community mourning the loss of a police officer on Tuesday.

A Milwaukee Police Department officer, driving home after his work shift, died after another driver ran a red light and crashed into his car early Tuesday morning, according to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.

The officer, Kou Her, 27, a two-year veteran of the department, died at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa after the crash at 1:35 a.m. at North 60th Street and West Capitol Drive, Morales said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

The officer was southbound on 60th Street when a westbound car on Capitol Drive crashed into his vehicle, Morales said. Witnesses reportedly told police the other driver was speeding and ran a red light; the other driver fled.

Morales said witnesses stayed on the scene and told police what direction the suspect fled. Officers caught up to the suspect and arrested him, a 34-year-old Milwaukee man with four previous operating while intoxicated convictions, Morales said.

The man, whom police did not identify Tuesday, was still on probation from his fourth OWI, Morales said. Morales did not indicate whether he was suspected to be intoxicated in Tuesday’s crash.

“I want the residents of this city to know and to appreciate the work that’s done by our police officers,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said at the press conference. “Officer Her had just completed his tour of duty and, like all of us, wanted to drive home safely. Because (of) a person running a red light, he is now no longer with us.”

The Wisconsin State Patrol is investigating the crash.

Officer Her is survived by his wife, six brothers, two sisters and parents.

“His father was very proud to have the first son in the family to be a police officer and serve our community,” Morales said.

Barrett extended his sympathies to Her’s wife and the MPD.

“This is a difficult time, as we’ve had before in the last year, to lose a police officer,” Barrett said.

Her is the fourth Milwaukee officer killed in the past year.

Alderman Cavalier Johnson represents the neighborhood where the crash occurred.

“I am actually kind of sick to my stomach. That’s an intersection I travel through and that my family travels through,” said Johnson. “It’s sad, it’s tragic and it’s unnecessary. The Milwaukee Police Department has sacrificed so much.”

WISN-TV reported that the same intersection was the site of a multivehicle crash later in the day. Details on that crash were not readily available as of Tuesday.

Kaul mourns lost officers

Her’s death came within hours after Racine Police Officer John Hetland, a 24-year veteran of the department, was fatally shot at about 9:40 p.m. Monday night during an armed robbery at Teezers Bar & Grill, 1936 Lathrop Ave.

Hetland, 49, was off duty and trying to stop the robbery when he was shot, police said.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul issued a statement Tuesday morning mourning Hetland and Her.

“The loss of two police officers — two people who worked to keep communities safe — is a tragedy,” Kaul said. “We mourn the loss of these courageous public servants. My condolences to their family and friends and to the Racine and Milwaukee Police Departments.”

Monona incident

The dangers of police work were further underscored after police officers were shot at early Tuesday morning in the Dane County community of Monona when suspects in a stolen SUV tried to elude arrest, part of a wild scenario that included two high-speed chases of two different stolen vehicles and the arrest of two suspects.

Monona Police Lt. Sara Deuman said nobody was hurt, but officers being shot at could be a new problem police face in the pursuit of people stealing cars.

“It could be that or it could be they were just trying to get away,” Deuman said.

Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain told The State Journal in Madison that news of shots being fired at police while conducting an investigation is disturbing.

“The fact that shots have been fired while we investigate the rash of car thefts is highly disturbing, and raises the concern of officers answering the calls,” DeSpain said.

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Lee Newspapers and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


Jonathon Sadowski covers the greater Union Grove and Waterford areas, entertainment and odds and ends for The Journal Times.