Candlelight vigil honors fallen officer

Brandon Mendoza was known for his work in the community where a candlelight vigil was held. It was an area he was assigned to patrol.

Community members say the officer volunteered his time to transform Guerrero Rotary Park, even helping to paint a mural on a wall.

And on Monday a baseball field was named in his honor.

The mother of Sergeant Brandon Mendoza addressed a crowd of friends, co-workers, and community members who gathered at the park Tuesday evening for a candlelight vigil in honor of the fallen Mesa Police Sergeant.

"I don't think you'll ever truly know how much you meant to Brandon, the conversations we had, the people he met, and the friendships that happened through his work here at the park," said Maryann Mendoza.

It's now one year since Mendoza was killed. The sergeant was heading home from his shift when he was hit by a wrong-way driver on the ramp from westbound US60 to Westbound I-10 last May. The man who hit Mendoza also died in the crash.

An investigator said that the suspect drove 35 miles in the wrong direction before he hit Mendoza.

"I'm going to miss him a lot," said Luis Estrada.

Mendoza was a fixture at the park near Southern and Country Club.

"He would let us help him get the bases ready for playing kickball with him," said Estrada.

Not only did he patrol the area, but community members say he volunteered to clean it up.

"He will continue to live on through this part, this community, through friends and family," said Joseph Villalba.

The City of Mesa is now trying to raise $50,000 to add new bleachers, benches, and turf to the baseball field.

"Everybody is so concerned with keeping this park the way it is tonight, makes me happy, I know he's smiling from above down at all of us tonight," said Maryann.

Sgt. Mendoza's family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the State of Arizona, claiming the Department of Public Safety didn't do enough to stop the wrong-way driver. 

A account has been set up to help raise money for baseball field additions.


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