Officer Jon C. Cook, a 38-year-old rookie with the San Francisco Police Department, died Wednesday, June 12, as he and his partner raced to help arrest a suspected violent felon. Their marked unit collided at 17th and Dolores streets in San Francisco with another police car on its way to the same call.
Three other officers were injured in the accident. Officer Nick Ferrando, 25, suffered severe head injuries and remains in San Francisco General Hospital. He has undergone two brain surgeries. Officers David Lee and Mike Celis suffered minor injuries.
Four officers, two in each car, had been responding to the Castro to assist in the arrest of Monte Haney, 29, who was suspected of gouging out his girlfriend’s eye. He was later arrested about two blocks away from the accident site.
A police spokesman stated that a phenomenon known as a “washout,” in which competing sets of emergency sirens drown each other out, might have contributed to the crash.
More than 2,000 attended a funeral Mass for Cook at St. Mary’s Cathedral on June 17, officiated by Rev. John Ranallo who stated that Gospel writers “don’t give us an explanation of why our loved ones are ripped away from us. They just offer the hope of redemption.”
He added, “You are here today because he touched you, and he is a brother policeman. Whether you knew him or not, he affected each of us.”
Attorney General Bill Lockyer, as well as, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Police Chief Fred Lau, Police Commission President Sydney Chan, and Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano attended the service.
The state’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Lockyer, told Cook’s family, “We can’t alleviate your loss, but I hope you can understand that he was doing what he loved.”
During the eulogy Mayor Brown called the job of police officer a higher calling. He said, “I’m sure the almighty, as he protects Jon now, understands clearly how he must ultimately be rewarded for his great sacrifice.”
Mission District police station Capt. Greg Corrales told mourners that Cook had the opportunity to take the night off because of a scheduling mix up. His sergeant told him his shift was filled, and he could go home, but Cook said no, he wanted to work.
“He said, “I want to go catch some bad guys. I want to fight crime.'” Corrales stated, “I sure wish (the sergeant) could have changed his mind.”
Cook died an hour and a half later.
Corrales continued, “I’ll always remember Jon racing to catch a heinous criminal, red lights and sirens going and that was the last emotion he ever felt on this earth.”
During the eulogy Sgt. Chuck Limbert, a close friend of Cook, said there were many things about him that people didn’t know.
“He loved to dance, and he paid his way through college by teaching tap dancing.
“He called his mother every Sunday.
“He was a lieutenant in the Air Force, working in intelligence services. He spoke fluent Russian and translated Russian documents.
“He had a master’s degree in biotechnology and had worked for Gilead Sciences in the Bay Area, conducting research on HIV drugs.
“He had a black belt in tae kwon do.
“He feared nothing except spiders.”
Limbert ended his message by saying, “You lived your life without reserve, and you lived it fully.”
Ammiano said that he was amazed at how many people knew Cook or were touched by his passing. Quoting from The Wizard of Oz, when the wizard gave the Tin Man a heart, he said, “A heart is not measured by how much it loves, but by how much it is loved.”
He ended by stating, “That is the testament of Officer Cook.”
Following the services, Cook’s parents took him home to Oregon for burial.
In addition to his parents, Cook is survived by his domestic partner of three years, Jared Strawderman.