Greenfield officer killed in hit and run crash

Officer Will Phillips was riding his bike for a training mission when he was hit and killed.

Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

Greenfield - The search is on for a hit and run driver who killed a Greenfield Police officer early Thursday morning.

Officer Will Phillips was killed as he and two other officers were riding bicycles during a department-approved training ride.

It happened on U.S. 40 in Henry County, just west of Knightstown High School at around 12:45 am.

Officer Will Phillips' patrol car was parked as a memorial in front of the Greenfield Police Department Thursday. In the back, fellow officers put black flags on antennas and covered their badges with black bands mourning the 38-member department's first ever line-of-duty fatality.

"Hopefully we will find the person that struck Will and be able to bring them to justice," said Chief John Jester, Greenfield Police Department.

Phillips and two other members of the Greenfield Police bike patrol were riding west bound on U.S. 40, just west of Knightstown High School, when a vehicle struck Phillips from behind and did not stop. The 32-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. The other two officers were not injured but were not able to give investigators a description of the vehicle.

While technically off-duty at the time of the accident, the officers were involved in department-approved training. The police chief says they were fully prepared and taking all the precautions, even though they were riding out in the middle of the night.

"I can't really say it's a bad place. It's a road, they had their safety equipment on. They had lights on the backs of their bikes, on the fronts of their bikes, one officers even had a glow stick on his shoulder in a pocket," said the chief.

But protective gear, including a helmet, did little to shield the four-year Greenfield Police veteran from the impact. His death brought this small community together to remember and to mourn.

"It doesn't make any difference if you knew him or not," said Irene Jester, Greenfield resident. "He should never have died like that. And whoever hit him, he knew he hit him. He had to."

Investigators agree the driver must have known. Right now experts in Henry County are essentially doing vehicular forensics - trying to use bits of the recovered vehicle to determine what make and model hit Officer Phillips.

The Henry County Sheriff's Department is handling the investigation.