La Habra Police Department Officer Michael Osornio, 26, was fatally injured October 31, 1994, when a drunk driver ran a red light and smashed into his cruiser. Osornio succumbed to internal injuries an hour after the collision, which demolished his cruiser and left him pinned inside.
He became the first officer on the city’s police force to be killed in the line of duty.
“I’m proud to have known him. Being a policeman was one of his dreams,” said Robert Skipper, father of Osornio’s fiancee, Chartina Skipper “He wanted to be a police officer so much he would have done it for nothing.”
Officer Kari Armonstrong, who was sent to the accident when Osornio failed to answer arrived to find her injured colleague. “She said, ‘Mike, come on, wake up, wake up.’ And he didn’t respond,” said Victorio Toscano, a clerk at a nearby store.
On the following day, the accident scene had become a memorial site as fellow officers and city residents stopped to place flowers and pay respects to Osornio, described as a hardworking cop gifted with keen instincts and a wry wit. Around the station house, he was frequently consulted for his carpentry know-how and renowned for a dry sense of humor, colleagues said.
A 1986 graduate of Walnut High School, Osornio made good on a longtime dream to become a police officer when he put himself through the police academy at Golden West College and was hired soon afterward by the La Habra force.
Osornio had moved with his family four years ago to Chino, where neighbors described him as helpful, outgoing and well-liked.
“He was a real nice, easy going guy,” said John Whiteman, 37, who lives across the street from Osornio’s parents and had seen him on the day of his death stopping on his way to work. “He would wave to you all the time and if he saw you working, he’d always stop and ask if you needed help.”
The young officer, a boating and water-skiing enthusiast who remodeled old houses, recently moved in with his high school sweetheart Chartina Skipper, who owned a home in nearby Montclair. The two hoped to marry soon.
In the front yard of Osornio’s parents’ sprawling ranch-style home in Chino, clusters of the officer’s longtime friends hugged his father Rafael, who at times was in tears. Tony Robledo, who grew up with Osornio, said, “Mike was one of my closest friends and I’m going to miss him. He died a hero in my eyes.”
La Habra police and residents spent much of the day after Osornio’s death comforting each other Officers wore narrow black bands across their badges in memory of their fallen comrade.
“This is the first time I’ve had to wear one for my own officer,” Captain Terry Rammell said.
A memorial fund in Osornio’s name has been established. Donations may be sent to the Michael Osornio Memorial Fund, Sanwa Bank, 2015 W La Habra Blvd., La Habra, CA.