Patrol Sgt. Steve Licon had pulled over a car for speeding Saturday afternoon on the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore when a car driven by an allegedly drunk driver crossed over the shoulder and struck him.
Licon died at a nearby hospital. The family of four in the car he had pulled over weren't hurt.
Michael Callahan, 36, of Winchester was booked on suspicion of murder and driving drunk in connection with Licon's death. It's unclear if Callahan has an attorney. Inmate records show he has a court appearance set for Wednesday.
Law enforcement officers joined a procession that stretched for miles over the freeways to honor Licon Saturday night and escort his body to the coroner's office.
Investigators believe the recommendation of a murder charge in the case is "completely appropriate," said Capt. Mario Lucio, special services commander of CHP's Inland division.
"We have uncovered evidence which shows gross negligence both during and before this tragic collision," Lucio said at a Sunday news conference.
He declined to explain what the evidence was. Ultimately, prosecutors will decide what charges to file.
Licon was a 27-year veteran of the agency and is survived by his wife, daughter and stepdaughter.
Friends say he was getting ready to retire.
Anyone who wishes to donate to his family can contribute to the Sgt. Steve Licon Memorial Fund, managed by the CHP's credit union.
Acting Gov. Eleni Kounalakis ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the state Capitol, and the California Highway Patrol is holding a bell tribute ceremony in his honor on Monday.
"He loved mentoring the troops," Lucio said. "The guy really spent time developing the officers he supervised."
CHP Headquarters tweeted that "our hearts are heavy ... Rest easy brother, we have the watch from here."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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