Tulsa Police Department officers killed in the line of duty: 39 have died while on patrol since 1917

Posted at 12:28 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 13:28:24-04

"I will protect the Right, Lives, and Property of all citizens and uphold the honor of the Police Profession, with my life, if need be.”

That statement is part of the oath each new Tulsa Police officer takes during his or her swearing-in ceremony. Unfortunately, 39 Tulsa Police officers have paid the ultimate sacrifice while in the line of duty.

The most recent Tulsa police officer killed was Dick V. Hobson, Jr. Officer Hobson died June 11, 1996 during a foot pursuit and search of an armed robbery suspect. The suspect was lying in wait and ambushed Officers Hobson and Steve Downie. Hobson died later that evening. Downie recovered from a gunshot wound to his leg.

APRIL 23, 1993

Officer Constantine G. "Gus" Spanos died from a gunshot wound during a traffic stop the day before. Spanos' killer was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

NOVEMBER 10, 1986

Officer James A. "Bert" Slay died after his vehicle disengaged itself from the Park position and pinned him between his patrol car and a parked truck. He died two after the accident.

MARCH 26, 1982

Officer Chance F. Whiteman III and Officer Kelly L. Smythe died when the police helicopter they were in struck a tree and crashed.

JULY 25, 1981

Officer Fabrienne M. Van Arsdell died during a traffic stop of a drunk driver. While she was in her patrol car doing a records check another drunk driver rammed into her car.

DECEMBER 15, 1980

Sergeant Donald L. Byerley died after a drunk driver struck his patrol car while he was on a traffic stop on I-244.

NOVEMBER 5, 1979

Officer Carl V. "Poncho" Kime, Jr. died after being mistaken for a burglar and shot by a security guard. While searching a building that had been burglarized, the security guard saw Officer Kime's silhouette and fired a shot that killed Kime.

JULY 15, 1973

Auxiliary Officer Glenn Truman Wortham died of a heart attack while struggling with a stabbing suspect. The suspect kicked Officer Wortham in the chest with such force that it forced his heart to stop.

APRIL 3, 1971

Sergeant J. Thurman Spybuck died from a gunshot wound while assisting with a search warrant. The suspect came out of the residence, confronted Sgt. Spybuck and killed him during an exchange of gunfire.

APRIL 3, 1963

Officer George Lee Brady was killed during a high-speed chase. Another vehicle pulled in front of Officer Brady's patrol car which forced him to veer and go left of center where he hit an oncoming vehicle head-on.

APRIL 27, 1962

Officer Hugh C. Greer was shot and killed by a burglary suspect who grabbed Officer Greer's pistol. The suspect shot and killed Greer and wounded Officer Ray Burch.

NOVEMBER 30, 1961

Officer Thomas Ernest Milstead died after he and a man had argued at the dog pound over a dog. The man left, returned with a gun and shot Officer Milstead.


Officer Leroy E. Cowles died from injuries he sustained after his motorcycle collided with another vehicle that had pulled out in front of him.

DECEMBER 25, 1959

Officer Alan F. Yerton died from injuries he sustained during a traffic collision. Officer Yerton was headed to the hospital when a vehicle pulled out in front of him.

JUNE 1, 1958

Corporal Nelson F. Williams died after a vehicle ran a red light and collided with his patrol car. The suspect was intoxicated and arrested.

MAY 12, 1957

Officer Wallace Eugene Casey died after another vehicle pulled out in front him while he was on his motorcycle.

MAY 17, 1951

Detective Cornelius W. White was transporting a rape suspect to jail when the suspect shot him. The suspect was killed in a shoot-out with police.

APRIL 14, 1949

Officer James S. Peters walked in on burglary in process and was shot by one or more of the suspects. His murder is still unsolved.

NOVEMBER 28, 1948

Officer Claud S. Lynch was killed when he and Officer Henry Johnson were transporting a man to jail. Officer Johnson and man struggled in the patrol car and the suspect grabbed Officer Johnson's gun. The gun discharged and struck Officer Lynch.

MARCH 13, 1947

Officer Lawrence M. Inman died as a result of injuries from a traffic collision he was in on Jan. 15. Officer Inman was the passenger in a car that collided into a vehicle that had turned in front of the officers' car.

FEBRUARY 4, 1947

Captain Ray F. Cowan died from a blow to the head he received during a fight with a prisoner. He died six months after he retired. His death was attributed to the head injury.

JANUARY 3, 1947

Detective Ben H. Johnston died from gunshot wounds he received on Sept. 12, 1946 while he approached suspects in the death of Officer Gerald St. Clair.  The suspects exited their car and fired at Detectives Johnston and Sylvester R. Cormack.

SEPTEMBER 12, 1946

Detective Sylvester R. Cormack was killed during the investigation of the death of Officer Gerald St. Clair when Detectives Cormack and Johnston approached to men who were suspects.


Detective Gerald M. St. Clair died from a gunshot wound while he chased an armed robbery suspect.

OCTOBER 10, 1944

Officer Walter C. Busch died after his motorcycle collided with another vehicle that had pulled out in front of him.

MARCH 16, 1941

Officer Lawrence Leroy "Shorty" Rogers died from a gunshot wound while responding to the scene where a Railroad Special Agent had been shot and killed. The suspect shot and killed Officer Rogers who died at the scene.

MARCH 24, 1937

Officer Edward W. Von Holten died from an accidental gunshot wound. His shotgun discharged wounding police matron Stella Geise who was riding with Officer Holten. Officer Holten dropped the weapon after the discharge. The shotgun hit the floorboard and discharged again this time shooting and killing Officer Holten.

DECEMBER 10, 1936

Officer Walter N. Clark was shot and killed when he approached a forgery suspect in a drug store.

JULY 22, 1934

Detective Lawrence B. Mitchell was shot and killed when he and Detective W. L. Martin approached a person in a vehicle. The suspect opened fire, killing Mitchell and wounding Martin.

APRIL 23, 1933

Detective Henry C. Morrison died after a suspect got control of Morrison's gun while being transported to jail. Detective Morrison was shot four times.

JANUARY 23, 1931

Detective James A. Woolley was shot and killed as he approached a robbery suspect in a vehicle. The suspect fired a single shot.

DECEMBER 31, 1930

Officer William Sydney Brooks was killed when his motorcycle collided with a truck and trailer that had pulled out in front of him.

OCTOBER 31, 1927

Officer Robert Jackson approached a home to investigate a family disturbance. The suspect came out of the residence and shot Officer Jackson four times. Jackson also fire four times and killed the suspect.

FEBRUARY 26, 1922

Officer Rober Donnelly had stopped a a vehicle believed to be transporting alcohol. One of the suspects exited the vehicle and shot and killed Officer Donnelly.

OCTOBER 27, 1920

Officer Ed Yoakum died as a result of a gunshot wound. Officer Yoakum  responded to a home burglary in process where the suspect had been apprehended coming out of the house. The home owner mistook Officer Yoakum for the suspect and shot him in the backyard.

JUNE 8, 1920

Detective William Charles Meachum died as a result of gunshot wounds during the attempted arrest of an armed robbery suspect.

FEBRUARY 7, 1918

Officer Glenn Allison died after he was struck in the head with a tire pump by one of two prisoners he was transporting to jail.

NOVEMBER 9, 1917

Sergeant John Harrod died after his pistol fell out of his holster and discharged. Sgt. Harrod is the first Tulsa Police Officer to die in the line of duty.

Information courtesy of Tulsa Police Officers' Memorial.

RELATED STORIES: 26 officers killed in U.S. in 2016 | Recent police shootings involving black men | Recent attacks on police, officer-involved shootings

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