The city of Los Angeles will fly flags at half-mast to honour a police officer and soon-to-be father who became the first LAPD officer to die from coronavirus complications.
"It is with profound sadness, the Los Angeles Police Department is reporting the tragic passing of Police Officer Valentin Martinez ... from complications due to COVID-19," an LAPD statement said on Friday (local time).
The 45-year-old was expecting twins with his fiancée, Megan, who is 20-weeks pregnant.
Mr Martinez was a 13-year veteran of the department. The expectant father had been diagnosed with COVID-19 at the end of May and it’s presumed he caught the virus while on duty, according to the Fox 11.
As of Thursday the LAPD reported it had a total of 449 employees who have tested positive with COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year, according to NBC.
Since the outbreak began, California has been unable to arrest the steady rise in cases in the state. Confirmed cases of the virus continued to increase significantly in the aftermath of the protests against police brutality in LA.
‘A hero lost way too early’
Today we lost Officer Valentin Martinez, who tragically fell to COVID-19.
He worked as a patrol officer within @LAPDMission, dedicating his life to the people of LA. To his partner Megan, his mother, and siblings—our deepest condolences.
Ofcr Martinez, May God welcome you home. pic.twitter.com/rHObUO2lkz
— Chief Michel Moore (@LAPDChiefMoore) July 24, 2020
LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted his condolences to Martinez's family Friday afternoon and said Mr Martinez worked hard, always “dedicating his life to the people of LA.”
The LA Police Protective League said it would always remember Mr Martinez's service to the city.
“LAPD Officer Valentin Martinez was a hero lost way too early in life.
“All of our officers have placed themselves, and their families, at increased risk throughout the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We honour their sacrifice today,” the group tweeted.
The officer’s younger sister, Diana Martinez, told the NY Daily News her “special” brother was looking forward to becoming a new dad.
“I’m at a loss for words. Basically, he was the best big brother… He was really excited for his babies. He was an amazing guy,” she said.
LAPD HQ shared a heartbreaking post on Twitter, standing the officer down from his shift for the final time.
“A soon-to-be father, a partner, a brother, a son. As courageous in his fight against COVID as he was patrolling the streets and serving Angelenos.
“Officer Valentin ‘Val’ Martinez, Serial #38701, you are End of Watch Sir. Rest In Peace.”
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