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Woman killed by police car in North Buffalo identified

A woman was killed Friday morning in North Buffalo when she was struck by a car driven by a police officer responding to a call, Buffalo police said.

Susan LoTempio, 64, of Rugby Road was hit at about 6:30 a.m. near the intersection of Hertel and Tennyson avenues. Her husband, Joseph, said his wife had been on her daily walk.

"She gets up at 6 o'clock and she goes for her walk, every weekend, it's around 6:15. It's her usual walk. I get up after that and I take our dog out for a little walk and I put him in the car and I go get a coffee and a paper and I get home before my wife," Joseph LoTempio told The News late Friday.

"On the way home, I saw the lanes were all blocked off. I got the goose bumps and I had a very bad feeling, and I said, 'Please don't let it be my wife.' When I got home, I went upstairs and she wasn't home. I knew then that it was her," he said.

The officer who struck Susan LoTempio, who was alone in the cruiser, was responding to a call for service on Starin Avenue, police said. They have not released the officer's name.

"At this point, the officer is 100 percent cooperative," Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said during a news conference in which he offered the department's condolences to the woman's family. He declined to say whether the officer's vehicle had its lights and siren on at the time the collision.

Police closed Hertel Avenue between Homer and Delaware Avenue until about noon while they investigated the incident.

Joseph LoTempio said he and his wife had been married for 32 years.

"It's devastating. Devastating," he said. "She lived for me and our daughter. She did everything for us. It's going to be unbelievable without her."

LoTempio said his wife was active and health conscious, preferring to get her daily exercise in early, particularly on weekends.

"She always did her walk, and on the weekends, she'd walk early. I wasn't a big fan of that, but she insisted on walking early so she could get her day started and do her chores afterwards," he said.

"I always had a bad feeling about that, but she insisted on doing it. She said there was nobody out at that time. It was just unfortunate and devastating. She was an unbelievable woman, loved animals, birds and always took care of us and made sure I ate right and cooked me all healthy stuff," LoTempio added.

Buffalo Police are conducting an internal investigation into the accident, Rinaldo said, and have been in touch with the Erie County District Attorney's Office. State Police are being asked to conduct the traffic death investigation, he said.

The Attorney General’s Office also issued a statement Friday saying its Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit will investigate the incident, under the guidelines of an executive order that appoints the AG's Office as a special prosecutor in cases involving civilian deaths and law enforcement.

The Buffalo Police Department's manual of procedures outlines standard policy for officers when responding to a call for service. A section titled "Responding to Calls," says there are three types of response for, which are characterized as routine, rapid and emergency response.

For routine responses, emergency lights and siren should not be used. For rapid responses, their use will be determined by information received by the police dispatcher. In cases of emergency responses, emergency lights and/or siren should be used, according to the policy.

Buffalo police have not said what type of response the officer who hit the woman was undertaking on the way to the call on Starin.

The department's manual was last revised in August 2013 and is in the process of being revised again as the department pursues accreditation from the state.

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