WAYZATA, Minn. (KMSP) - When Wayzata police officer William Mathews was struck and killed by a car while clearing debris on Highway 12 Friday afternoon, he left a family—and a community—struggling for answers.
As chief of the small department, Mike Risvold never expected funeral planning and media coordination to be a part of his job duties. In an emotional press conference Tuesday afternoon, he read a statement from Mathews family and thanked the people of Minnesota for their love and support in trying times.
"Bill lived his life to serve as an officer," the statement reads. "From the time he began his schooling he knew being a Law Enforcement Officer was his calling and he wanted to do it with the utmost dignity and pride. There was not a single day Bill complained about going to work. He was there early and stayed late ... He deeply cared about his Wayzata Police family and will miss them, but will leave them with many stories and laughs."
Beth Freeman, who struck Mathews with her car Friday while driving with a cancelled license, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide. Investigators said they found evidence she was on her phone and under the influence of controlled substances at the time, finding drug paraphernalia that tested positive for cocaine.
Cell phone video captured by former Vikings cornerback Tyrone Carter shows a distraught Freeman in the moments after the crash saying repeatedly, "I'm going to jail"―smoking a cigarette, agitated, while the reality of what happened sets in.
In a candid back and forth with reporters Tuesday, Risvold also said Mathews be remembered as one of the most loved members of the 13-person department, and acknowledged the dangers police face every day.
"Every call for service involves risk," he said. "There's a lot of truth to that ... putting on the uniform and badge every day requires risk."
The police department announced a memorial fund in Mathews' name on its Facebook page, also setting up a YouCaring page that is deposited into that account as well.
For more information on Officer Mathews' funeral and the memorial fund, click here.