Police officers at risk during routine traffic stops



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Posted on April 23, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 9:28 PM

DALLAS — When you see Officer Kyle Louster's smashed squad car and the aftermath of the accident early Saturday morning, you wonder how he wasn't killed.

He was seriously injured, however.

Dallas police First Assistant Chief Charles Cato was one of the first officers to see Officer Louster in the hospital. "It's a hazard and a risk of our job," he said.

Officer Louster was trying to help teens going home after their prom. Their small bus was stalled in a driving lane on South Central Expressway.

The driver of a pickup truck plowed into the squad car, ramming it into the bus.

The students were uninjured, but the officer and bus driver were hurt.

Officer Louster’s left leg was mangled. It's sobering even for veteran officers who are used to seeing this sort of thing.

"He was in a lot of pain," Chief Cato said.

Dallas police say 28 of the 80 officers killed in the line of duty died in crashes, including one whose car caught on fire.

Laws have been passed to try and protect officers, but that didn't help a Wolfe City officer early Monday morning. He was directing traffic near a construction zone in Dallas when he was struck.

That driver fled without stopping to help, but a suspect was later arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

"We go and see officers who are injured all the time, and it's disheartening to see one of the men and women we send out there to be hurt," Chief Cato said.

By law, drivers must pull over or slow down when an emergency vehicle is stopped with its lights on. Still, officers continue to be hurt and killed.

Dallas police plan to file charges against the driver who hit Officer Louster this weekend.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com