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Cop Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run After Boldly Responding to Call and Notifying Next of Kin: Sheriff

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An Arizona tribal police officer has been accused of killing a young mother in a hit-and-run incident on Thanksgiving Day — and then returning to the scene to help with the investigation.

Josh Anderson, 49, reportedly even went with other officers to the victim’s home on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation to notify her family about her death, according to KSAZ-TV.

The woman, Iris Billy, 30, was killed around 3:30 a.m. while walking along State Route 73 near the Hon-Dah Casino, according to a news release shared on the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Brian Swanty, chief deputy at the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office, told AZ Family that almost immediately, investigators began to suspect something was “off.”

“They started to recognize there was a police car that was there (at the scene) that had some damage on it, but again, in rural Arizona, our cars get torn up sometimes because officers go to the forest,” he told the news outlet.

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“But as the investigation continued, there was more and more indication saying something just isn’t fitting here. Who would ever think it was the police car involved that’s now back on scene? That is just not normal,” he said.

When an investigator went to Anderson’s home and inspected his police car, “he recognized the damage that was on the car was consistent with potentially hitting a pedestrian,” the deputy said.

Swanty told AZ Family he found it amazing that Anderson reportedly went to notify the victim’s next of kin.

“I can’t imagine that scenario there at all,” he said. “Next of kin are probably one of the worst assignments to be given let alone knowing you had something to do with it, I can’t imagine that.

“Had he stopped [and] rendered aid like the rest of us would be required to do, we wouldn’t be speaking today.”

Anderson was arrested the day after the accident at his home in Whiteriver and immediately resigned from his job as a White Mountain Apache Police Officer, the sheriff’s report said.

The 20-year police veteran faces multiple charges, including criminal negligence, reckless driving, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault causing serious physical injury, interference with an officer, death caused by a vehicle and leaving the scene of a fatality collision, the department reported.

The case has been turned over to the FBI, KSAZ reported.

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“This is an extremely sad time for the family of the victim, the men and women at the White Mountain Apache Police Department, and the White Mountain Apache Tribe,” the sheriff’s department statement said.

“This event is an isolated incident and is not a reflection of the fine police officers that serve and protect the citizens of the White Mountain Apache Reservation every day.”

It pointed out that Anderson’s department “acted in a swift, transparent, and aggressive manner to find the facts and document the incident.”

If convicted, should he serve maximum jail time?

The statement extended condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

A GoFundMe appeal set up by Iris Billy’s family said she is survived by two boys, ages 9 and 10.

“They still needed her. She was the sole parent, she was just everything to them,” Billy’s sister, Phylene Burnette, told AZ Family. She said the family is heartbroken and struggling to understand what happened to their loved one.

The victim also leaves behind her parents, a twin sister, and two younger siblings, AZ Family reported.

As of Friday evening, the GoFundMe appeal had raised over $2,100 toward a $5,000 goal.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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