Freak Accident At Work Kills Gainesville Police Chief - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Freak Accident At Work Kills Gainesville Police Chief

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GAINESVILLE, TX -- Shock and sadness in one North Texas city after their chief of police dies unexpectedly. A freak accident at the Gainesville Police Department a week ago left him with head injuries, and tonight, fellow officers are struggling with this sudden loss.

It was last Friday that Gainesville's police chief suffered a fall while at work inside the Gainesville Public Safety Center getting rid of old evidence.

"You have to get judges to sign off so you can dispose of the evidence. He was working doing that and he fell off of a ladder and had a head injury which ultimately took his life today," says city manager Barry Sullivan. "It was an accident so you don't know, and a week might seem like a long time, but in a situation like this, it's not."

Chief Steven Fleming was flown to a Plano hospital, where he died around 12:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, stunning colleagues who prayed for his recovery.

"We have tried to keep them informed of the events since last Friday and because they know he would want them to continue that's what they're doing and they're here brothers in blue and they are protecting the city," says Sullivan.

Fleming was a police officer for almost all of his adult life, starting in 1991 and rising up through the ranks from corporal to sergeant and captain before becoming chief in 2008. Sullivan told reporters around 3:30 p.m. that Fleming brought strong values to his job.

"Things were black and white. I think his mother removed his gray Crayolas form his Crayola package," says Sullivan. "He would look everything up. If there was a question, he would research it in detail. He was fair. He wanted to treat everyone the same and so that was his biggest character trait right there and that was the biggest reason that I promoted him to chief."

Fleming oversaw about 40 officers and leaves behind a wife and daughter. "That's where he spent most of his time with his daughter doing equestrian events and he was a personal friend of mine and once again, he lived to serve the public. It was either his family, his church, or his community as a whole," says Fleming.

Sullivan says it's the first line-of-duty officer death in 60 years. Capt. Kevin Phillips is serving as acting chief. Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.