A police officer knocked down and killed by a stolen pick-up truck “didn’t stand a chance”, his chief constable has said.
Pc David Phillips was standing on a central reservation when the stolen Mitsubishi, being pursued by police following a burglary, mounted the kerb and hit him at speed before driving off.
The 34-year-old father of two young children was given emergency first aid by colleagues and rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards, Merseyside Police said.
The stolen vehicle was found abandoned a short time later in Wallasey.
“He didn’t stand a chance,” said chief constable Sir Jon Murphy.
Sir Jon said Pc Phillips was with a young colleague who tried to stop the stolen vehicle using a stinger device to puncture its tyres.
He said: “The Mitsubishi vehicle mounted the central reservation, drove directly at the officers down the central reservation and hit Constable Phillips. He did not stand a chance.”
Pc Phillips was married and he and his wife, Jen, had two young daughters, Abigail, aged seven, and three-year-old Sophie.
“Our thoughts are clearly with them at this time and with his mother and father,” said Sir Jon. “This is an incredibly sad day for Merseyside Police.”
Pc Phillips joined Merseyside Police in 2006 and was “popular and held in high regard” by his colleagues.
Sir Jon said Pc Phillips is the first Merseyside Police officer to be killed onduty as a result of a criminal act since 1981 and paid tribute to the bravery of his officers.
“David’s death serves as a reminder of the risks that the men and women of this force and the other forces in the UK face, in serving the public.
“They come to work, day in day out, knowing the risks they all face.
“But their wives, their husbands, their loved ones and their families expect them to come home at the end of their watch.
“Sadly, David did not and his daughters will have to grow up without their father.”
Sir Jon appealed for those responsible to do the “sensible thing” and warned, “we will find you.”
But he also said the evidence police have currently is the abandoned car and “nothing else”.
He emphasised the appeal for information and said: “We have got no idea who has done this.”
Merseyside police and crime commissioner Jane Kennedy’s voice broke withemotion as she spoke to dozens of TV crews, reporters and photographers at the press conference at the force HQ in Liverpool.
She said: “Today is a day of mourning for the entire police family.
“I know I speak for people across Merseyside when I say my thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Pc David Phillips family, his friends and their colleagues during this time.
“Police officers are on the front line every single day protecting our communities.
“It’s a dark day when you lose one of our own and it’s a painful reminder of the risks police officers face to keep us all safe.”
There still remains a police presence outside Oxton Estates in Woodhouse Road, Birkenhead, where the Mitsubishi was stolen.
Residents said that the car was usually parked outside the sales and letting shop and had stickers advertising the business.
One neighbour who did not want to be named said “it stuck out like a sore thumb”.
She added that she had only realised there had been a burglary this morning.
“I was shocked when I opened the bedroom curtains and I saw the police. I didn’t hear anything. The car was red with Oxton Estates printed all over the side of it. It stuck out like a sore thumb.”
Maria Driver, 55, said she saw the news on Facebook.
She said: “It’s not unusual around here, the last 12 months has been absolutely horrendous for car thefts, motorbike thefts and burglaries. The alarms were going off the other night about 6:30pm.
“It’s so sad, his poor family. It’s horrible.”
Another woman heard “a tyre screech” around 1:30 am but could not be sure if it was connected to the incident.