PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5)-- Friends of Officer Paul Rutherford describe him as kind, gentle and phenomenal.
"He was a great teacher. He was a great mentor. He was always there. He would always answer our questions in a way that would make sense. I miss him a lot already," Wayne Lockhart said.
Lockhart said Rutherford was his karate instructor and has known him since 2008. He said Rutherford was able to use karate techniques while protecting the streets of Phoenix and pass along his knowledge of defense mechanisms to his students.
"What Paul did-- he was able to take what he learned in the Dojo out onto the street and use it in a real sense as a police officer," Lockhart said. "He was able to approach his job more effectively and more efficiently just because of the techniques he learned."
On Thursday morning, Rutherford was assisting people who were involved in a two-car crash at 75th Avenue and Indian School Road. Phoenix police said the 51-year-old officer got a call for an emergency across the street. As Rutherford responded on foot, a vehicle heading eastbound on Indian School Road hit him.
Rutherford died at the hospital.
"I got a call this morning. I was shocked it was Paul. My son is a police officer and he rode with Paul and that's the reason he became a police officer," said Mike Wall, a fellow karate instructor.
Wall said he met Rutherford at a karate tournament about eight years ago and that they have been friends ever since.
"Paul was always there helping. He would say, 'I got 6 hours to give you.' And then he'd come up and say, 'I got a 10-hour shift.' So, he was a very giving person-- always there, always ready to help," Wall said.
According to Wall, Rutherford was looking forward to his upcoming retirement in a couple of years.
"It is especially hard that he was so close to fulfilling his career like that and to have this happen, it was just shocking," Wall said.
Rutherford was a police officer for almost 23 years.