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Seven officers lost in a matter of days

June 22, 2005
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Seven officers lost in a matter of days

In the last few days, several officers have died in numerous ways, including car and motorcycle crashes, a shooting and a heart attack while working a protest.  Whenever an officer dies we are reminded of the perils of police work, but when several die in a matter of days that reminder becomes even more clear.

Our deepest sympathies go out to the families, friends and departmental comrades of all of these officers.


As you read the following, please remind yourself that driving can be deadly, so do it safely; a shooting can occur at any time so always wear your vest; and the stresses of police work, both physical and mental, can take a serious toll on your body and your mind so make every effort to protect and strengthen them.


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 Richard Elliott

[Armadale, Australia]

Age: 29

Years of Service: Senior Constable Elliott had been with the force since 2000.

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Senior Constable Elliott was killed after losing control and crashing his motorcycle.

Date of Incident: June 20, 2005

By Shelley Hodgson, News.com.au

Sen-Constable Richard Elliott, 29, worked at the Yarra crime desk at Richmond police station, and lived in Armadale.

He lost control of his motorcycle about 10.35pm on Monday at the intersection of Malvern Rd and Carmyle Ave, Toorak.

He died at the scene.

The ethical standards department is overseeing the investigation.

Steve Gaughan

[Laurel, Md.]

Age: 41

Years of Service: Corporal Gaughan had been with the Prince George's County police force for 18 years. He leaves behind two young children.

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Cpl. Gaughan was shot in the abdomen during a traffic stop and later died of his injuries.

Date of Incident: June 21, 2005

Wilfredo Gonzalez

[San Francisco, Calif.]

Age: 38

Years of Service: Gonzalez had been with the San Francisco Police Department since 1994 in the night investigations unit. He has been on unpaid suspension since May 2004.

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Officer Gonzalez died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound sometime last week. One of his relatives found him at his home June 20, 2005.

Date of Incident: Sometime during the week of June 12, 2005.

by Erin Hallissy
The San Francisco Chronicle

A San Francisco police inspector who was suspended after being charged in 2004 with drugging and raping a woman three years ago, died last week of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Solano County coroner officials said Monday.

Wilfredo Gonzalez, 38, did not show up for a preliminary hearing in Solano County Superior Court on the rape charges Thursday, and a relative who later checked on him found him dead in his Vacaville home, said Vacaville police Lt. Craig Courtemanche.

Full Story

George Griffin

[Searcy, Ark.]

Age: 38

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Deputy Griffin was involved in an auto accident June 17th while on his way to assist a fellow officer. The accident left him in a coma and he passed away June 21st.

Date of Incident: June 21, 2005

SEARCY, Ark - The law enforcement community is mourning the loss of one of its own Tuesday. Deputy George Griffin died Tuesday morning after he was injured during an accident last Friday.

According to those Channel Seven spoke to, it’s been a sad day for the police community and the community at large. Many remember the deputy described as a big man with an even bigger heart.

A yellow ribbon and a wreath at Booth and Main Streets mark the place where 48-year-old Deputy George Griffin collided with a vehicle driven by Teresa Curtis. It’s a frequently traveled intersection by White County sheriff deputies and a few feet away from a place that was also quite familiar, A.C. Stores.

For full story, visit:  Community mourns sheriff's deputy

For full story, visit:  Off-duty officer killed

Joseph "Joe" Robertson

[Natchitoches, La.]

Age: 20

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Officer Robertson was killed after he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed.

Date of Incident: June 21, 2005

NATCHITOCHES, La. - An off-duty Natchitoches city police officer died early Tuesday morning in a traffic accident.

Joseph W. Robertson, 20, was killed around 1:30 a.m. when he lost control of his motorcycle. State Police say that Robertson was driving on Patrick Road, just outside Natchitoches, when he entered a curve, braked and lost control of the motorcycle. He was thrown from the motorcycle. Robertson was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our police officers," said Natchitoches Mayor Wayne McCullen. "Officer Robertson was an intregral part of the Natchitoches Police Department. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Robertson family."

Robertson's father, Richard, is a lieutenant with the Natchitoches Police Department. He was on duty at the time of the accident. "Officer Robertson will be greatly missed by this department," said Chief Melvin Holmes. "He was a hard worker and always eager to learn. He was an extremely dependable officer who was always available when needed by the police department." Funeral services will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches.

John W. Sanford Jr.

[Northumberland County, Va.]

Age: 50

Years of Service: Deputy Sanford had a been a part-time deputy with the Northumberland County Sheriff's Office for the last eleven years.

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Deputy Sanford was killed in a head-on collision with another car.

Date of Incident: June 19, 2005

Richmond Times~Dispatch

A Northumberland County sheriff's deputy and another man were killed early yesterday in a head-on collision on U.S. 360 in the Northern Neck county's Burgess area.

The wreck occurred at 12:03 a.m. as part-time Deputy John W. Sanford Jr., 50, was responding to a report of a disturbance, state police Sgt. Kevin A. Barrick said last night. Sanford, who was driving with his lights and siren on, collided with a Northumberland man driving east in U.S. 360's westbound lane, Barrick said. He said the man had not been identified as of last night.

Barrick said Sanford, a part-time deputy since 1994, was driving behind a second Northumberland deputy who also was responding to a report of a fight in the county's Callao area.

For full story, visit:  Deputy, other man killed in crash

Paris Williams

[Philadelphia, Penn.]

Age: 52

Years of Service: Officer Williams had been with the department for 19 years.

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Officer Williams died of an apparent heart attack.

Date of Incident: June 21, 2005

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA- A police officer collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday as police skirmished with protesters outside a biotechnology convention, authorities said.

Officer Paris Williams, 52, a 19-year department veteran, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Authorities closed the street in front of the Pennsylvania Convention Center to traffic as hundreds protesters chanted, pounded on drums and blocked the entrance to the meeting place. A small of number of demonstrators scuffled with police.

About a half-dozen people were taken away by police.

Groups opposed to biotech research methods and other issues had announced plans to disrupt traffic and events in the city throughout the day.

About 18,000 people are in the city for the convention.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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