According to a press release from the Colorado State Patrol:
"The Officer and the driver of the Mustang were standing outside their vehicles talking near the left front fender of the police car when a southbound 1995 Nissan Pathfinder sideswiped the police car's left side with its right side. The Pathfinder struck both the officer and the driver of the Mustang with its right front corner."
Family members of Kevin Montoya, the driver of the Mustang, immediately questioned why Bitner and Montoya stood in that location.
"Standing there next to the vehicle in the roadway, that's a little too dangerous," said Joe Sandoval, who teaches criminal justice at Metro State University.
Sandoval says Bitner did the right thing by staggering his police car three feet to the left of the Mustang, which creates a safety zone in which to conduct business.
What he doesn't understand is why Bitner did not stay in the safety zone or move to an even safer location like the nearby sidewalk.
"It is tragic," said Sandoval. "That's what leads me to think that perhaps there was some momentary distraction that caused him to just stay there and linger. But, he lingered a little too long."
Nationwide, about 15 percent of accidental on-duty police deaths are caused when officers are struck by vehicles. A minority of those cases take place during traffic stops. It is more common for officers to be struck while directing traffic and assisting people on the roadway.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)