SAN DIEGO – A former San Diego police officer and ex-Padres catcher was honored Tuesday in a ceremony where his name became the 34th added to downtown’s fallen officer memorial.

Former police officer and catcher for the San Diego Padres Dan Walters is honored during the game with the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 21, 2004 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. Walters’s baseball career was cut short in 1996 when he suffered a severe spinal injury while diving for a ball during Spring Training. Walters later became a police officer and was shot in a gun battle on Nov. 12, 2003, suffering further injury as a passing car struck him after being shot. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Dan Walters was injured in an on-duty shooting in 2003 while he and his partner were providing backup in the traffic stop of a domestic violence suspect in Southcrest. That night, he was hit in the neck with gunfire and then struck by a passing vehicle, crushing two cervical vertebrae.

The result left Walters paralyzed from the neck down and despite regaining some upper body movement in rehabilitation, he was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

He died in April 2020 at age 53 from complications of the injury.

“Today we honor the sacrifice Officer Walters made to his community,” San Diego police Chief David Nisleit said. “His name has been added to the National (Law Enforcement Officers) Memorial wall in Washington D.C., the state memorial in Sacramento, the county memorial at Waterfront Park, and now here at our San Diego Police Department memorial.”

Walters took an unlikely path to the department. He graduated from Santana High School in Santee and was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1984 amateur draft. He later returned home to San Diego in a trade to the Padres in 1988 and played on the big league club in parts of two seasons in 1992 and 1993.

In 84 total games for the Padres, Walters had a slash line of .234/.281/.348 with five home runs, 32 RBIs, 14 doubles and a stolen base. His career ended in 1996 with the Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast League.

He joined SDPD in 1998 where he was an active member of the force until he was wounded in 2003.

Walters was remembered in an El Cajon funeral service more than a year after his death. He also was honored that same day by the Padres, who paid tribute to him before a game against the Miami Marlins.

Walters’ name was unveiled on the memorial after the reading of the names of each SDPD official on the wall, the earliest of which is Patrolman Emery E. Campbell, whose end of watch date is Aug. 27, 1913. Last week, he also was added to the Regional Law Enforcement Memorial, which honors law enforcement officials throughout San Diego County.

Speaking about the officers honored on the downtown memorial, Nisleit said their losses ultimately “are felt many years after their passing.”

“A child is left to grow up without a father or mother,” he said. “A parent is forced to bury a son or daughter. A wife is made a widow. A husband is made a widower. After each officer has fallen, we vow to remember the officer’s life and bravery for generations to come.

“We make a promise to a fallen officer’s family that their loved one’s sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

City News Service contributed to this report.