Sergeant Lee died on July 24, 1970 after 12 years of dedicated service to the citizens of the City of Rialto. In 1958, United States Marine Corps member, Darrell Keith Lee was hired by then Chief Sidney Jones. Lee was very well respected and a very hardworking officer. Lee was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1963, after only five years on the job. Sgt. Lee was a past president of the Rialto City Employees Association (a forerunner of the current Rialto Police Benefit Association). Sgt. Lee was a lifelong resident of the City of Rialto and was also a member of the Fontana Elks.
At approximately 2209 hours, April 6, 1970, the Rialto Police Department received a report of a suspicious man attempting to build a fire. The location was the Ace Hi Moving building located by the Santa Fe Railroad tracks between Palm Ave. and 2nd St. Sgt. Lee was dispatched solo to the call and after hearing the lone officer broadcast, the Chief of Police, Sidney Jones, also responded to the location to back Sgt. Lee.
Chief Jones arrived on scene and saw the suspect, Roy Haase, burning papers in his hand. Chief Jones had Haase place his hands on Jones’ police vehicle until Sgt. Lee arrived three minutes later. Chief Jones started to remove an envelope from Haase’s pockets and Haase began fighting with Chief Jones and Sgt. Lee. The suspect was subdued and placed into a patrol unit. The envelope contained $2,300 in cash. The suspect was then transported to the Rialto Police Department for an interview. Haase was later placed on a 72-hour mental health hold.
As soon as Haase was arrested, Sgt. Lee felt ill. Sgt. Lee was transported to San Bernardino Community Hospital, where it was learned that Sgt. Lee had suffered a massive heart attack. Sgt. Lee was then placed on medical leave.
It was later learned that Haase had at one time been committed to Patton State Mental Hospital and he had been discharged from the US Army as a paranoid schizophrenic. Haase was later charged with PC 243 – battery with injuries to a peace officer, by the Office of the District Attorney of San Bernardino County.
On July 24, 1970, Sgt. Lee was still on medical leave when he suffered a second and fatal heart attack. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System later ruled Sgt. Lee’s death was work-related and his death was as a result of in-the-line-of-duty injuries.