HPD: Off-duty officer on motorcycle killed after hitting cow in west Harris Co.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The Houston Police Department has confirmed that an off-duty officer riding his motorcycle died after hitting a cow in the middle of the road in west Harris County.

He was identified as 32-year-old Taureen Branford. He served eight years of service in the vehicular crimes division.

Branford was thrown off the bike after hitting the cow on Highway 99 near FM 529 around 1:30am.

Another driver hit the remains of the cow and slammed into some median cables.

She was taken to the hospital but is expected to be OK.

Hours before Branford was killed a woman called to report a cow near the Grand Parkway Saturday evening as she drove south on Highway 99 toward Katy. The Grand Parkway cuts through rural ranch land where cattle graze within side of traffic.

Megan Messman saw a cow on the wrong side of the fence and she called the Toll Road Authority.

"The dispatcher answered the phone and as I was explaining this story to her she politely interrupted me and said, 'This is the emergency number for Beltway 8 only and I needed to transfer you,'" said Messman.

The call was transferred and went to voicemail. Highway 99 is operated by TxDOT, according to the Toll Road Authority.

What happened to Officer Branford haunts Messman, who says she tried to do the right thing by calling.

"The process of reporting a non-emergency should change. It should be taken a little bit more importantly and there should be, I feel like, better protocols in place to make sure my concern reaches the correct agency," she said.

Both TxDOT and the Harris County Toll Road Authority will be investigating the incident and the protocols that were followed.

The Branford family issued this statement:

    "Taurean was a graduate of Prairie View A&M University. He was a wonderful son and brother. He was protective of his family, loved working for HPD and helping others when in need. He will be truly missed."

    The Branford Family

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