Man charged in officer's death

November 18, 2008 6:24:24 PM PST
Philadelphia Police Sgt. Timothy Simpson was killed in a crash involving a driver who, police say, was under the influence.Late Tuesday morning, police released a photo of the man accused of driving the car that hit and killed the sergeant Monday night.

He is 41-year-old William Foster from Levittown, Bucks County and authorities say he should have never been on the road.

Sergeant Timothy Simpson was responding to a robbery call in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia around 10:30 p.m. Monday. Police say a Camaro, traveling at a high rate of speed, smashed into Sergeant Simpson's cruiser at Aramingo and Allegheny Avenues.

Sergeant Simpson was rushed to Temple University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m.

CLICK HERE for more on the investigation into Sgt. Simpson's death. David Henry reports.

Moments before the fatal accident another police cruiser was following Foster's car, because polcie say it went through a number of red lights and had been traveling at a high rate of speed.

Deputy Commissioner William Blackburn said in a news conference Tuesday that Foster was in Philadelphia for one reason only - to buy drugs. "Investigators uncovered that Foster traveled to Philadelphia from Levittown for one reason. That reason was to purchase heroin." Blackburn continued, "While he was at the hospital, located in his possession there were three bags of heroin."

Foster and his unnamed passenger were taken to area hospitals. Police say Foster was under the influence and driving with a suspended license at the time of the crash.

Foster is being held on two million dollars bail on numerous charges, including homicide by vehicle and DUI.

In addition, just two weeks ago Foster was in police custody, but let go after being picked up on a bench warrant. At the time a shotgun was found in his vehicle, and yet the bail officer allowed Foster to walk free.

CLICK HERE for more on the criminal history of William Foster. Vernon Odom reports.

Action News has learned the first details about the funeral for fallen Philadelphia police sergeant Timothy Simpson.

The service will be held Monday, November 24th at 11:30am at the Basilica.

Cardinal Rigali will be the celebrant.

6abc.com and Action News will continue to update with more details as they become available.

Simpson worked in the 24th district, the same district as the late Sgt. Steve Liczbinski. Liczbinski was shot and killed after a bank robbery back in May, 2008.

CLICK HERE for today's reaction from the 24th District. John Rawlins reports.

Sgt. Simpson spoke with Action News earlier this year about the arrest of Eric Floyd, who was wanted in the death of Sgt. Liczbinski. At the time, Simpson explained that when Floyd was arrested he was handcuffed with Liczbinski's handcuffs. Simpson went on to say that Floyd was told to whom the handcuffs belonged, and why they were being used.

CLICK HERE to see video of Sgt. Simpson's interview that aired on Action News.

After his death Simpson was named supervisor of Liczbinski's unit. Captain Kevin Hodges of the 24th Police District told reporters, "I had to make the tough decision of who was going to go in Steve's position in 2 Squad. I chose Timmy Simpson because he was a strong leader, a great cop, and an excellent supervisor."

Sgt. Simpson celebrated 20 years on the force just last Friday. And only hours before he died he received an award for outstanding service.

CLICK HERE for Cathy Gandolfo's report about a vigil held Tuesday night at the scene of the crash.

Captain Hodges said Simpson belonged to an old school when it comes to policing. "We would have taken this job for 10 cents... because we loved it. It wasn't a job or a career for us - it was truly a life's calling... and Timmy embodied that."

Sgt. Simpson, who was 46-years-old, leaves behind a wife, three children, and a brother who is also on the force. His wife and children were there as his body was carried out of the hospital to an awaiting hearse.

The death of Sgt. Simpson is the latest in a string of violence involving the Philadelphia police department:

On Halloween, 2007, Officer Chuck Cassidy was shot and killed after he came upon a robbery at a donut shop.

Sgt. Steven Liczbinski was killed during a bank robbery in May, 2008.

Officer Isabel Nazario was killed in a crash in the city's Mantua section in early September.

In late September, Officer Patrick McDonald was shot and killed after a traffic stop turned violent. McDonald was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

In all, four police officers have died in the line of duty in Philadelphia in the year of 2008 (two died of gunfire, two in car crashes). That is the most in a calendar year since 1996, when there were also four (three died of gunfire, one from a fall). This is according to records on the Officer Down Memorial Page website.

The most officers to die in a calendar year in Philadelphia is eight - an unfortunate total attained in the years 1932 and 1919.


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