Memorial to Willie R. Gawen

End of Watch: March 2, 1915
Rank: Officer, Badge No.  N/A
Age: 31  Years of Service: 4 years
Location of Death: 7th and Q Streets, NW
Duty Assignment:  Second Precinct


Officer Willie Gawen was killed in a bicycle accident while on patrol with a fellow officer near 7th and Q streets, NW.

Officer Gawen’s partner heard a noise and when he turned around he discovered Officer Gawen laying in the street unconscious. It is believed that Officer Gawen struck a pile of debris that had been put in the street following a fire at 1526 7th Street.


Biography: Officer Gawen had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for four years. He was survived by his wife and two young children.


Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.

Report Says Bicycle Patrolman Who Fell Was Assaulted.
Fail, However, to Find Any Evidence to Substantiate Rumor—Coroner Nevitt to Hold Inquest This Morning—Physicians Deny That Man Had Been Drinking Before He Met With Mishap.

Rumors to the effect that Bicycle Policeman Willie R. Gawen, of the Second precinct, who was injured Monday at Seventh and Q streets northwest, by falling from his wheel, and who died yesterday morning at Emergency Hospital, had been assaulted with a blunt instrument, will form the basis of an inquest by Coroner Nevitt at the District morgue this morning.

When Inspector Boardman went on duty at detective headquarters Monday morning, eight hours after Gawen had been injured and had read the report of the case, he assigned Detective Mullen to investigate. Mullen, it is understood, reported that he could find nothing to indicate that Gawen had been assaulted.
Wheel Skidded, Harrison Thinks.

Capt. Harrison of the Second precinct, who also investigated the case, believes that Gawen’s wheel skidded on the car track, throwing him.

Deputy Coroner William P. Carr, who made an autopsy of the body, will testify at the inquest. Dr. Carr said that the autopsy showed that the front of the head had been struck a powerful blow resulting in a fracture of the base of the skull. He declined to express an opinion in advance as to how the blow was inflicted.

A persistent rumor last night was to the effect that Gawen was drinking at the time of the accident, and that this was responsible for his fall from the wheel. Dr. William Kelly, of Emergency Hospital, who took charge of Gawen when taken from Seventh and Q streets to the hospital, will deny this before the coroner’s jury. Deputy Coroner Carr also said last night that his autopsy showed no signs of intoxication.

Recognized Wife and Relatives.

Gawen regained consciousness but for a few minutes after the fall, when he recognized his wife and other relatives.
Gawen was a native of Mundays Point, Va., where he was born in 1884. He was a travelling salesman for a Virginia firm when appointed to the Metropolitan Police Department on January 12, 1911. Three years later he was promoted to class 2 and assigned as a bicycle policeman. Besides his wife, he is survived by two children. He resided at 219a P Street, NW. The body will be taken to the Virginia home for interment.


The majority of the officers and members of the police force who are stanch friends of Maj. Sylvester were disappointed in the unexpected request for retirement by the police department head. His friends had hoped and expected he would have followed up his answer to the charges made against him by Congressman Parks, of Georgia, with a fight before an investigation before the commissioners, which they believed would have exonerated the major.

An amusing feature of the rush for Maj. Sylvester’s job took place in the press room of police headquarters the night of the announcement of Maj. Sylvester’s request to be retired. A man probably 35 years old, fairly well dressed, walked in the press room and asked one of the reporters for a “blank”. When asked what he meant by “blank,” he replied that he wanted to make application for Maj. Sylvester’s position. He refused to give his name. He was told that the blanks were being printed for the expected rush of candidates and that if he hoped to get one of the much coveted blanks he must be at the District building not later than 5 o’clock Friday morning. He left seemingly satisfied and took the statement in all seriousness.

Bicycle Policeman Willie R. Gawen, of the Second precinct, who received injuries at Seventh and Q streets northwest early Monday morning, falling from his wheel, dying from his injuries Tuesday morning in Emergency Hospital was buried in Virginia near his native home, Mundays Point. He was born in 1884. He was appointed to the force in 1911. In 1914 he was promoted to second class. He was survived by his wife and two children. The family lived at 219a P street northwest.

The annual celebration of the Policeman’s Association will be held at Pythian Temple Thursday night. The three commissioners have promised to be present. Commissioner Brownlow will address the members on police matters. Invitations have been sent out to a number of prominent business and professional men.

The condition of Sergt. Harry Lohman, of the First precinct, who was shot by Louis Newman in Ninth street three weeks ago—Newman since dying from a shattered knee done by a bullet fired by Policeman Clay—has so far improved that he is ready to leave the hospital.

Thomas English, night clerk at detective headquarters, off on sick leave for a week, returned to duty the past week.

Policeman Henry Backenheimer, of the Seventh precinct, who has been in Georgetown University Hospital for an operation, has improved sufficiently to go home.