‘He was special’: Off-duty Prince George’s Co. officer killed in Beltway crash

An off-duty Prince George’s County police officer was killed after his motorcycle was struck on Maryland’s Capital Beltway and he was thrown from it into oncoming traffic.

Officer Davon McKenzie, 24, was killed Tuesday night as he rode his motorcycle in Largo, the Prince George’s County police said. A native of the county, he joined the force in March 2017.

“He was special,” Police Chief Hank Stawinski said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

McKenzie was a school resource officer at the William Wirt Middle School. That was an unusual choice for a 24-year-old, two-year officer, Stawinski said, adding that that choice was a sign of his character. The chief added that principal Rhonda Simley described him as “a ray of sunshine.”

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said in a statement, “My heart breaks for this young officer, and his family, who was taken from us far too soon.” She said McKenzie “had a bright future ahead of him” and, of his family, said, “My prayers and thoughts of love, and those of the Prince George’s County community, are with each of them.”

The crash took place on the Capital Beltway between Maryland Route 202 and Arena Drive shortly after 11:20 p.m., the Maryland State Police said.

Police say a Nissan Altima was attempting to merge onto southbound Interstate 495 from Maryland Route 202 when it struck a commercial street sweeper in the slow lanes near the ramp. The driver of the Nissan then lost control and veered across all of the southbound lanes, striking McKenzie’s Suzuki motorcycle in the fast lane.

The impact threw McKenzie from the motorcycle, over the Jersey wall and into oncoming traffic, where he was struck by two northbound vehicles.

McKenzie was taken to the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Stawinski said that, in conversation with McKenzie’s commanders, the words “respectful,” “courteous,” “thoughtful” and “mature” repeatedly came up. For such an inexperienced officer to be described that way, the chief said, “He was special.”

Fraternal Order of Police President John “Zeek” Teletchia said, “What we’ve lost is the career that could have been, and the multitude of lives that could have been touched and changed.”

Stawinski said there were about 50 people at the hospital when he got there about an hour after the accident. “There wasn’t anyplace to anyone to sit, and nobody cared.”

Stawinski said that funeral arrangements are still pending. He added that McKenzie would receive “a funeral appropriate to an officer lost not in the line of duty,” but that they were getting ready for “a large turnout.”

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” Stawinski said, adding that no one “should let that stop” them from continuing to call him.

“There’s a special place reserved for those who fall in the line of duty, but at moments like this, there really is no distinction to be drawn.”

Stawinski also said McKenzie was working with his peers and commanders on “a lot of issues” in the department.

“He touched a lot of people.”

The Maryland State Police are still investigating the collision. Anyone with information is asked to call the police at 301-568-8101.

Below is a map of where the crash occurred:

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