SPD officer dies in hit-and-run

Officer Justin Kepler was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his personal motorcycle in Escalon. He was off duty at the time.

The Stockton Police Department lost one of their own Saturday night. 

According to a Facebook post, Officer Justin Kepler was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his personal motorcycle in Escalon. The suspect was later arrested.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Kepler's family and friends," the post reads.

In a statement from Stockton Police Department Chief Eric Jones, he said last night, the department lost, " an incredible man and an incredible police officer who faithfully served the community members of Stockton."

"He placed his life on the line for our protection and was taken from us in a tragic hit-and-run accident while he was off-duty," Jones said. "My heart goes to his family, his friends, and also our entire department. I want to thank the first responders, the Escalon Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol for locating and arresting the hit-and-run suspect. Let us all remember Justin as a protector and server of our community."

Officer Kepler was hired by the Stockton Police Department on April 16, 2012. Most recently he served as a field training officer.

According to the accident report, just after 10 p.m. Saturday, Isidro Urista-Meza, 27, was driving northbound on Brennan Road when he pulled in front of Kepler at the intersection of Brennan Road and SR-120. It is unknown if Urista-Meza stopped at the stop sign prior to entering the intersection. Kepler was unable to avoid the vehicle and collided. He was ejected from his motorcycle and died at the scene. 

Urista-Meza fled on foot, but was later arrested. He has been charged with manslaughter, a misdemeanor; driving without a license, a misdemeanor; and hit-and-run resulting in death, a felony. He remains in San Joaquin County Jail on $500,00 bail.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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