Memorial to William Shirley Buchanan

End of Watch: April 18, 1929
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 4 years
Age: 24
Location of Death: New Hampshire Avenue and 7th Street, NW

 

Circumstance:

While operating a motorcycle, Officer Buchanan responded to a “Man With a Gun” call, in a Code One status. When he reached the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Seventh Street, NW, the motorcycle struck a vehicle broadside, causing instant death to Officer Buchanan.

Biography:

Motor Patrol Officer Buchanan served with the Metropolitan Police Department for four years. He died one month before his wedding. He was survived by his father, Dr. Robert E. Buchanan and his mother, Mrs. Loretta Buchanan, with whom he lived at 835 Allison Street, NW. Also surviving him are two brothers, Eldred H. Buchanan, 400 Peabody Street, N,W and Allen Buchanan, 835 Allison Street, NW, and two sisters, Octa L. and Elizabeth Buchanan, both of whom live with their parents.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE DEATH OF OFFICER WILLIAM S. BUCHANAN
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 19, 1929, PAGE 1
POLICEMAN KILLED AS CYCLE HITS CAR.
WILLIAM S. BUCHANAN VICTIM OF CRASH SPEEDING TO ANSWER FALSE ALARM.
FIANCEE’S HOME NEARBY
Speeding to an emergency call, Motorcycle Policeman William Shirley Buchanan, 24 years old, of the Tenth Precinct, was killed almost instantly last night less than a block from the home of the girl he was to have married next month. At Seventh street and New Hampshire avenue northwest his machine crashed headlong into the side of an automobile operated by Fred L. Lanoir, 28 years old, 914 H Street, NE.

So tremendous was the impact, Buchanan’s motorcycle was twisted into a shapeless tangle of metal and the right side of the automobile was crushed as if by a blow of a trip hammer. The policeman was thrown to the ground between his machine and the right front fender of the car, his head crushed and his right leg broken. Lanoir said last night that immediately after the collision he attempted to open the right door, but found it tightly wedged shut. He then climbed over the back of the driver’s seat, opened the right door and jumped to the ground. Buchanan’s right arm was within reach and he caught it, trying to pull the policeman from beneath the wreckage.

Sergt. Nelson O. Holmes, of the Tenth Precinct, who was two blocks from the scene, heard the crash and hurried over. He helped Lanoir remove the wrecked motorcycle and extricate Buchanan. At that time, the Tenth Precinct patrol, with Privates James E. Lowery and Thomas O’Donnell, was returning from the same call to which Buchanan was responding. They hailed a truck owned by the American Laundry, 68 Patterson Street, NE, and driven by William Plummer, of Hyattsville, Md., and placed the dying man in it.

He was rushed to Garfield Hospital, where he was pronounced dead by Police Surgeons Dr. William B. Marbury and Dr. J.J. Kilroy. According to Lanoir, he was driving south on Seventh Street and had entered New Hampshire Avenue before he saw the motorcycle speeding toward him from southwest. Applying his brakes, he attempted to bring his car to a stop until Buchanan, he said, appeared to swerve to the left and behind him. He then released the brakes in an effort to clear the street when his car was struck.

Lanoir, who is employed as a rubber worker by the Modern Auto Supply Co., was taken to the Tenth Precinct Station and held pending the coroner’s investigation. He suffered numerous cuts about the face and head, three stitches being taken back of his right ear.

Responding to False Alarm

As the story was reconstructed by Capt. Ira Sheets of the precinct a telephone call came in about 6:25 o’clock that a man was threatening his wife with a revolver on the 400 block of Allison Street, NW. The patrol with Lowery and O’Donnell was dispatched to the address.

Buchanan saw them pass and immediately called the station from a nearby patrol box. He was told to follow and render assistance as he could. The crash occurred while he was on his way and before he learned that the call which was to cost him his life was a false alarm.

Buchanan was to have been married about the middle of next month to Miss Madeline Stoney, who lives on Seventh Street near Taylor, a few doors from the scene of the crash. She hurried to the hospital immediately upon hearing of the accident, but arrived only to find her fiancé dead. Buchanan had figured in two prominent cases since he joined the police force in 1925 as a motorcycle officer.

With policeman B.R. Campbell, of the Tenth Precinct, he was acquitted in connection with the fatal shooting of Riley Hall some years ago. Hall was pursued by the two policemen when they recognized the car he was driving to have been stolen. Campbell fired from the sidecar of Buchanan’s motorcycle, striking Hall. Helped Capture Murderers.

In September 1926, Buchanan assisted in the capture of Samuel Marino and Lee Eagles, youthful bandits who were executed last summer with John Proctor for the slaying of Patrolman Leo W.K. Busch. He was an accomplished athlete and well known in amateur baseball and basketball circles in Washington.

Buchanan is survived by his father, Dr. Robert E. Buchanan, and his mother, Mrs. Loretta Buchanan, with whom he lived at 835 Allison Street, NW. Also surviving him are two brothers, Eldred H. Buchanan, 400 Peabody Street, NW, and Allen Buchanan, 835 Allison Street, NW, and two sisters, Octa L. And Elizabeth Buchanan, both of whom live with their parents at the Allison street address. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

(THE GRAND JURY CLEARED FRED LANOIR, THE DRIVER OF THE CAR.)

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 21, 1929, PAGE M22
POLICE MOTORCYCLES TO BE GIVEN SIRENS
Another move decided on by the police chief to increase safety is the equipment of all police motorcycles with a loud electric siren. The siren would be used whenever policemen are exceeding the speed limit in response to an emergency.

Otherwise they would be silent.

Had Motorcycle Policeman William S. Buchanan, of the Tenth Precinct, who was killed in a collision with a motor car Friday, had such a siren in operation the collision might have been avoided, police officials believe. Buchanan was going fast in response to a call for help from a woman who said her husband was attempting to murder her when he struck an automobile driven by Fred L. Lanoir, 914 H Street, NE, at New Hampshire Avenue and Seventh Street Northwest.

Police officials believe that Lanoir was not at fault in the accident, but that had Buchanan’s motorcycle been equipped with a loud warning siren the motorist would have been forewarned and stopped his machine to give the policeman the right of way.

Neither Maj. Pratt nor Inspector Brown believes that any panacea for traffic accidents is to be found in whatever new plans may be worked out, but they are convinced that if motorists generally are aware that there is to be a stringent enforcement of all traffic laws the number of accidents will be lessened.