See the update at the end of this post on details of funeral services for former Westminster police chief James Mitchell “Mitch” Waller.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 1, 11:07 A.M.: James Mitchell “Mitch” Waller was only promoted to police chief in Westminster in December of 2009, but he since has not only retired but, sadly, died.
Waller, 53, of Mission Viejo was pronounced dead at the scene after being struck from behind by a car while biking on Laguna Canyon Road. Waller was biking in the southbound lanes with Kevin Beach, 48, of Fullerton, who was also struck and hospitalized in serious condition.
A 25-year-old Irvine woman who drove the white 2010 Toyota Corolla that struck the pair Friday morning was questioned at the scene and released as the investigation continues, according to the California Highway Patrol, which does not suspect driving under the influence at this time.
Waller, who joined the Westminster force in 1984, was an avid cyclist who often participated in rides to raise money for the families of fallen officers.
He was promoted to police chief by the Westminster City Council with the retirement of Andrew Hall. Waller had been acting chief since 2005, when Hall was named interim city manager.
A graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Waller got his bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology with a minor in Economics from the University of San Diego. He also earned a juris doctor from Chapman University Law School in Orange and was a member of the State Bar of California.
His assignments while at Westminster PD included chief's adjutant, SWAT commander, traffic sergeant, patrol operations lieutenant and detective commander. He was promoted to captain in November 2002.
Among his most challenging moments as chief came in April 2010 when his detective Anthony Nicholas Orban was arrested for abducting a waitress leaving work in Ontario and raping her at gunpoint nearby in Fontana.
The day of his sentencing, Orban's body was found hanging in his cell, and the coroner later determined suicide was the cause.
UPDATE, JULY 8, 12:16 P.M.: Funeral services for James “Mitch” Waller are open to the public and set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, 3800 S. Fairview Ave., Santa Ana.
A memorial website has been established by the Waller family to leave condolences and learn how to provide donations for widow Sally Waller and the couple's two children. Visit imorial.com/MitchWaller for details.