POLICE OFFICERS KILLED IN UTAH STATISTICSPosted on January 5, 2012 by Administrator
Updated: February 22, 2017
Utah Law Enforcement Memorial, Inc.
Total Fallen Officers: 141
Homicide: 83 (58%)
Accidental: 59 (42%)
Carbon County Sheriff SAMUEL M. BLISS, 70, was accidentally shot to death in 1945 by members of his own posse during a gun battle with a murder suspect. The suspect was also killed.
Ogden Patrolman ALBERT G. SMALLEY, 20, died in 1920 of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident the previous year. Officer Smalley was just 19 at the time of the accident. He also only had one leg, having lost the other while playing in a freight yard as a child.
Provo Officer WILLIAM STRONG served his community for more than 30 years before being shot to death by a transient in 1899.
Millard County Deputy FLOYD L. ROSE was sworn in an hour before being killed by an escapee from the Millard County jail in 1922.
GENDER AND ETHNICITY
In 1998, Navajo Department of Public Safety Officer ESTHER TODECHEENE became the first female police officer to die in the line of duty in Utah. She was killed in a single car accident near Oljeto while responding to another officer’s call for assistance.
In 2010, Millard County Deputy JOSIE GREATHOUSE FOX became the first female officer in Utah to be murdered. She was shot to death during a traffic stop east of Delta.
In 1963, Ogden Detective MARSHALL N. WHITE became the first (currently only) African-American officer to die in the line of duty in Utah, when he succumbed to a gunshot wound suffered several days earlier.
The first (currently only) Latino officer to die in the line of duty in Utah is Sevier County Sgt. FRANCO R. AGUILAR, who died in 2010 after being knocked from a bridge on Interstate 70.
FIRST LINE OF DUTY DEATH
Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriff RODNEY BADGER, drowned in the Weber River in 1853. Deputy Badger was attempting to rescue a family stranded in the river when he was swept to his death by the current.
MOST RECENT DEATH
Utah Highway Patrol Trooper ERIC D. ELLSWORTH died November 22, 2016, four days after being struck by an inattentive motorist while directing traffic at a public safety hazard in Box Elder County.
In November 1913, a Bingham miner named Rafael Lopez murdered five police officers in the space of a week. He eluded capture, fled Utah, and was reportedly shot and killed by Texas Rangers in 1921.
WORST HISTORICAL PERIOD
Utah has entered a new “worst historical period” in line of duty deaths. Previously, the 30 year period spanning 1895-1925 was the most dangerous time for Utah police officers, with 29.6 percent of all LOD deaths occurring in that period, the majority of which were homicides.
However, in the past 30 years (1982-2012) 29 percent of all Utah officers have fallen during this period as well.
1895 – 1925
Homicide: 33 (82%)
Accidental: 7 (18%)
1982 – 2012
Homicide: 15 (38%)
Accidental: 25 (62%)
Of the 25 accidental officer deaths in the latter period, eight officers (32%) were struck and killed by Utah motorists. However, 10 officers (40%) died as a result of single-car accidents wherein the officer was the primary cause.
The first Utah officer to die as the result of homicide was Salt Lake City Officer WILLIAM COOKE. He was shot during a jailbreak in SLC, and died two weeks later.
Murder remains the single leading cause of death in the line of duty. 56% of Utah’s fallen police were murdered. Handguns are the greatest threat in these homicides, killing 61% of all murdered officers.
44% percent of fallen officers died accidentally. Traffic crashes account for 46% of these accidental deaths. Thirteen police officers have been struck and killed by inattentive or impaired motorists.
Ogden Officer ALBERT G. SMALLEY was the first Utah officer to die in a traffic accident. Officer Smalley suffered fatal injuries near Ogden Canyon in 1919 after being sideswiped by a passing motorist. Since then, three other officers have died while operating motorcycles, including:
- Salt Lake City Officer BLAINE L. BAXTER – 1935
- Salt Lake City Officer HAROLD A. PETERSON, SR. – 1954
- Utah Highway Patrol Trooper DANIEL W. HARRIS – 1982
The most recent traffic fatality occurred June 7, 2010 when Ute Tribal Officer JOSHUA YAZZIE was killed in a single-vehicle accident while responding to a call for assistance.
Four Utah police officers have died in aircraft accidents. The first death occurred in 1960, when San Juan County Sheriff SETH F. WRIGHT was returning from Texas with a prisoner. The plane crashed in Colorado, killing all three people aboard. The most recent was the 2006 death of Uintah County Deputy KEVIN S. ORR, who died of injuries when the helicopter he was riding in struck a cable and fell into the Green River during a search and rescue operation.
Punishment. Utah’s police killers have historically served light prison sentences. When arrested, convicted, and sentenced to prison, the average overall time served is approximately 11 years.
The last time a murderer of a police officer was executed was in 1955, when Don Jesse Neal was executed by a firing squad for the 1951 murder of Salt Lake Police Detective OWEN T. FARLEY.
Sergeant ALONZO M. WILSON, Salt Lake City P.D., 1894
Officer JOHN C. MORRISSEY, Bingham P.D., 1895
Marshal SILAS E. CLARK, Springville P.D., 1897
Sheriff SAMUEL M. BLISS, Carbon County S.O., 1945
Officer THOMAS M. REES, West Jordan P.D., 1986
Lieutenant GERRY L. IVIE, Duchesne County S.O., 1987