A 20-year veteran of the Lakeville Police Department was killed in an off-duty motorcycle accident near his home, Chief Thomas Vonhof said Thursday.
Sgt. Brigham Strole, 46, was killed after being thrown from his cycle about 9 p.m. Wednesday in a residential area of Lakeville, Vonhof said.
"It's something you can never expect or prepare for, when it is one of your own," said the chief, who called a full department meeting Wednesday night to announce the death to Strole's colleagues.
The State Patrol is investigating the accident, which occurred on Jordan Court just south of Jonquil Avenue.
Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol said Strole hit his head on the curb a when thrown from the motorcycle. He was not wearing a helmet, authorities said.
Roeske said investigators also are looking at whether Strole lost control after hitting a pothole or manhole cover. There were no obvious signs that alcohol was a factor, but authorities will investigate whether that or other causes contributed to the crash.
Vonhof said it's the first officer death of any kind during his 31 years with the department. "It's been very traumatic," he said.
Strole most recently served as a patrol supervisor and a mentor to younger officers. The department has 52 sworn officers and a total of 70 employees.
The chief said a witness to the crash told investigators that Strole's motorcycle was swaying back and forth just before the crash. Vonhof said Thursday that he did not know what might have caused that.
Strole was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he died.
Strole received numerous commendations and awards during his career, Vonhof said. He served as a K-9 officer for seven years. He and his canine partner, Blue, were considered one of the top teams in the country, at one point ranked 13th nationally.
"He had a passion for excellence," Vonhof said.
Strole also served as a member of the SWAT team, as an instructor for firearms and defensive tactics, and as a field training officer.
Funeral arrangements are pending, Vonhof said.
"Words cannot express the level of loss and sorrow that the men and women of our police department have felt over this untimely and tragic loss," Vonhof said.
Heron Marquez • 952-707-9994