Coroner links former officer’s death to fight 3 years ago
Yakima County prosecutors are weighing whether to charge a suspect who in 2011 fought with a Wapato police officer who later collapsed and died.
YAKIMA — A former Wapato police officer collapsed and died March 8 from injuries he sustained in a fight with a suspect nearly three years ago, authorities said Friday.
Now, the Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will review the case to determine whether charges should be brought against the suspect.
Derek Hansen, 43, died after blood clots entered his lungs, said Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins, who held a news conference at his Yakima office to explain the incident, which is being investigated as an on-duty death.
Hansen suffered a shoulder injury in July 2011 after struggling with a suspect resisting arrest, Hawkins said. He was put on light duty because of the severity of his injury, and a year later he had surgery.
Continued problems with his shoulder caused him to retire last year, Hawkins said.
Hansen collapsed at his Zillah home March 8 and was taken to Toppenish Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead not long after arriving.
Hawkins said his initial investigation shows the blood clots in Hansen’s lungs were caused by lingering problems stemming from the injury, but he doesn’t expect to receive the autopsy report until later this month.
Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hagarty, who attended the news conference, said he will review all reports involved to see whether any charges are warranted against the suspect who resisted arrest in 2011.
“We’ll probably put everything together and look at it,” Hagarty said. “I think the documents will dictate the course of action.”
Wapato Police Chief Tracy Rosenow on Friday was somber about Hansen’s death, and said officers frequently face suspects who resist arrest.
“It was something that police officers deal with all the time,” he said. “You contact them, go to take them into custody and they start resisting. This is the end result of that routine call for service.”
Hansen was responding to a call about a suspicious person when the clash occurred. Rosenow said the man was eventually taken into custody and convicted of at least one misdemeanor crime and resisting arrest.
Rosenow said he didn’t recall the specifics of the case but plans to review the report and forward it to the Prosecutor’s Office.
The man’s name is being withheld until authorities decide whether to pursue charges in Hansen’s death, Rosenow said.
Hansen began his career in Zillah in 1998 and was hired in Wapato in 2003, said Rosenow, who knew Hansen his entire career. Before becoming a police officer, Hansen served three years in the Army.
“He was a good officer; we all miss him, and this is a tragedy,” Rosenow said with a soft voice. “He was a good law-enforcement officer and a good family man.”
Hansen left behind a 17-year-old son, Colt, and his fianceé, Heather Coleman.