Los Angeles police on Thursday said it learned through relatives that 45-year-old Marine Corps Sgt. Major Robert J. Cottle, a member of the LAPD's SWAT unit, was killed in combat in Afghanistan. It's not clear exactly how he died: The Los Angeles Police Department stated that it would leave the details to the U.S. Department of Defense, which was expected to issue a statement soon.

Cottle was a Marines reservist who was deployed on active duty in August 2009, according to the LAPD. He served out of Camp Pendleton. He's been on the LAPD force since 1990 and most recently served on SWAT's “D” team as a senior officer.

“This deeply saddens me, especially since I've known RJ for over 20 years,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stated. “He is a fine man and a great example of the best LAPD has to offer. He will be missed.”

Late Thursday afternoon Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also issued a statement that reads, in part: “Very few people know what it truly means to everyday have the courage to unflinchingly march forward in the face of danger. Yet Officer Cottle did so with not only a steadfast commitment to the safety of this city, but with a strong sense of pride and duty for his country … Officer Cottle will eternally remain a part of this department. His unwavering dedication to public service will undoubtedly live on as an example to future generations of officers.”

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