Teen pleads guilty to death of Kent police officer

Teen pleads guilty to death of Kent police officer

A teen pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday for a crash that killed a Kent police officer in 2018.

Emiliano Garcia was 16 when he fled from police in a pickup truck. Kent Police Officer Diego Moreno was on foot after deploying spike strips to slow the truck when he was fatally struck by a pursuing patrol car.

Prosecutors said Garcia and two underage passengers in the truck illegally fired guns in a parking lot that prompted police attention and then fled the scene recklessly during the police chase, causing the death and multiple injuries.

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Prosecutors said the teens were drinking beers and doing cocaine after trying to get into a bar in south suburban Renton following a birthday party. Garcia was behind the wheel with friends inside of his father's red truck when the passengers fired shots into the air at the parking lot.

They said they were trying to scare off a group of older men, but then panicked after seeing police and fled. Police said the truck was going as fast as 95 mph.

The two teen passengers were charged with unlawful gun possession, and one of them faced a drug possession charge. Those teens were charged as juveniles.

Garcia has a sentencing hearing at 1:30 p.m. November 15.

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Kent police said the officer who crashed into Moreno was Officer Mark Williams, an 18-year veteran of the department. Williams was hospitalized in critical condition with a severe leg injury following the crash, but was later released.

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla in a statement that Williams is one of their finest "who was doing his job when tragedy struck."

Moreno was a Venezuela native who was remembered as a family man and decorated public servant. He was honored last year by the city with a Lifesaving Medal for saving someone from an opioid overdose. In 2016, he was praised for rescuing an elderly woman from a fire.

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