OKC cop killed in off-duty car crash
An Oklahoma City police officer was killed in a car accident early Thursday morning while driving home after work.
Sergeant Meagan Burke, 31, was traveling north on Interstate 44 near SW 44 when she was hit head-on by a southbound vehicle that made a left turn and went over the center guardrail, police said. Burke, who had been with the department since May 2016, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the southbound vehicle sustained non-life-threatening injuries and police said the investigation is at an early stage.
“It felt like a massive punch in the pit of the stomach, a big bomb,” said retired Lt. Wayland Cubit, who knew Burke through her volunteer service at the department’s Youth Leadership Academy when he learned of Burke’s death. “Of course I lost a friend. But the work she did was so impressive. It just feels like a big bomb.”
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According to tweets from Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Police Commissioner Wade Gourley, Burke was driving home from work when the fatal accident occurred.
“This is devastating and sad news,” Holt said in his tweet. “We offer our deepest condolences to the officer’s family. The officer’s family and the OCPD are in our prayers today.”
Who was the Sgt. of the OCPD? Meagan Burke?
According to a Facebook post from the local police union, Burke was “a great colleague” and had served as a patrol officer for the Springlake Division before joining the Freeway Interdiction Unit and most recently patrolling as a field training officer for the Santa Fe Division.
Oklahoma City Police Department tweeted body camera footage of a recent arson attack by Burke, who helped evacuate a burning building.
She also ministered to her community off the street.
When Cubit, who retired from the department earlier this year, sought mentors for students attending the Oklahoma City Police Department’s Youth Leadership Academy, Burke’s “name kept coming up.” It wasn’t an opportunity for extra pay or overtime, just something the officers could do on their own time, and Cubit said Burke was all about it.
Burke, who worked nights on patrol, never missed a class or event and often showed up with little to no sleep, Cubit said. She would take the students and work with them on weekends and days off.
“It was incredible how much she sacrificed for these children,” said Cubit.
Burke helped change the way youth saw the police
Elise Thompson, a 2019-20 graduate of Dove Science Academy and Youth Leadership Academy, said she will always remember how Burke helped her overcome her shyness while in class.
“She noticed me stepping aside,” Thompson said. “And she really helped me open up and get to know the rest of the officers and my other class members. She told me it was okay to… be shy but put myself out there.”
Thompson said she shed many tears for Burke on Thursday, whose death left her “in disbelief” and “shocked.” Burke was a mentor and friend who took Thompson and other students out to dinner. After class was over, they kept in touch, and Thompson said she knew she could always go to Burke if she needed someone to talk to.
As an African American who grew up in east Oklahoma City, Thompson said she wasn’t always positive about the police force. Through her interactions with Burke and other program officials, she gained a new perspective.
“She helped me realize that at the end of the day, most officers are just trying to do their job and are actually here to protect and to serve,” Thompson said. “And I saw her do that.”
Following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Burke organized Zoom meetings with students struggling with law enforcement issues.
Cubit said Burke has a “promising future” ahead of him and he’s looking forward to following her career.
“[Burke was]someone I felt understood the importance of law enforcement and community engagement and worked together,” Cubit said. “She got it, she got it. She wanted to be a leader who would help pass that on.”