Driver hits, kills woman; officers assaulted controlling crowd


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 5 at 1:47 PM

Map: 35th Ave. & Dunlap

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PHOENIX -- A Phoenix woman was hit by a car and killed while crossing the street late Sunday night.

It happened shortly before 11:30 at 35th and Dunlap avenues. The woman, now identified as Darlene Brown, lived in the neighborhood and might have been walking to either Walgreens or Circle K when she was hit.

Initial reports indicated that this was a hit-and-run wreck, but police later said the driver pulled over and stopped a short distance from the scene. Detectives with the vehicular crimes unit said that 32-year-old driver was not impaired and is not facing charges at this point.

According to Officer James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department, Brown, 42, appeared to have standing in the roadway when a Dodge Challenger hit her.

Early reports were that Brown had been crossing the street mid-block, but Holmes said witnesses told officers she might have been standing in the roadway and "may have been impaired by an unknown substance."

About 40 minutes before the crash, police received a call about a person standing in the road. By the time they arrived on the scene, it was too late.

According to the victim's roommate, Crystal Garcia Brown got into an argument with her girlfriend minutes before she was hit. Garcia said she believes Brown died en route to the hospital.

Officers assaulted during investigation

As word of the soon-to-be fatal wreck spread into the neighborhood, dozens of residents, including Garcia and the victim's 21-year-old son, made their way to the scene.

Holmes said there were 40 to 50 people on each side of the street and another 15 to 20 in the road gathered around Brown. Officers actually had a tough time controlling those onlookers as paramedics tried to help Brown.

Two officers were assaulted and three people were taken into custody.

According to Holmes, a 24-year-old man named Samuel Cooper was acting erratically as he tried to get to Brown as she lay on the ground. His mother was a friend of hers.

Holmes said Cooper hit an unidentified man who asked him to stay back and then shoved an officer and threw a shoe at him. When officers tried to take Cooper into custody, he ran to the parking lot of a nearby convenience store where he got into a scuffle with two officers, hitting one in the face and the other in the shoulder.

Once Cooper was handcuffed, two women tried to pull him away from the arresting officers. A crowd gathered around the group as Kiyana Hammond, 20, and Doris Valenzuela, 22, continued to try to free Cooper.

The women were taken into custody for resisting arrest. Cooper faces two counts of aggravated assault on a police office. All of the charges are felonies.