Memorial to Charles D. Poole
End of Watch: May 1, 1931
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 13
Location of Death: Fort Totten Road, NW
Officer Poole was on annual leave and suspected of consuming alcohol with a group of men in a heavily wooded area near the east wall of the U.S. Soldiers Home founds, near Fort Totten Drive, NE, when a drunk inmate of the Home suddenly jumped to his feet and shot the officer through the neck. The bullet entered the officer’s brain and severed his spine. The suspect was intoxicated and stated he was trying to shoot a chicken.
Officer Poole had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for 13 years. He was survived by his wife and two children.
Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER CHARLES D. POOLE ON AUGUST 4, 1931, AND THE UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WERE RULED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 5, 1931, PAGE 1
BULLET KILLS POLICEMAN AT WOODS PARTY
Patrolman C.D. Polle Is Pistol Victim Near Soldiers Home
INSTITUTION INMATE IS JAILED AS SLAYER
“Strong-Arm Methods” in Rum Selling Are Blamed for Shooting Affair.
Patrolman Charles D. Poole was shot and instantly killed last night, allegedly by Bert Davis, a lame inmate of the Soldiers Home, who opened fire on the policeman during a drinking party in a wood 70 feet west of Fort Totten Road near the east wall of the Soldiers Home Grounds.
The murder is directly attributed by police to “strong-arm methods” used by a policeman in directing trade from the Soldiers Home to a particular bootlegger in the vicinity, it was learned by The Post last night.
For the past six weeks Inspector Albert J. Headley, The Post learned, has been investigating a complaint that a policeman from the Twelfth Precinct had beaten inmates of the home who refused to buy their liquor from a bootlegger recommended by him.
Alleged Killer Found Asleep.
The alleged murderer was captured an hour after the crime by Lieut. John M. Roper, of the Twelfth Precinct, found him “sleeping” in a clump of bushes in a vineyard less than a half mile from the crime scene. He is charged with murder.
That a policeman from the Twelfth Precinct was linked with bootleggers in the vicinity of the home, was the complaint to Lieut. J.C. Morgan by an employe of the home, who said he had been beaten when the policeman found him dealing with a bootlegger other than one favored by the officer.
The man, who refused to give his name, said that the policeman, who operated a Twelfth Precinct automobile, would station himself while in police uniform near his favorite bootlegger’s place.
Any inmate of the home, he complained, who patronized any of the other speakeasies which infect the vicinity would be warned by the policeman against the practice. If the inmate continued to patronize other places, the complainant said the officer would beat him.
Complaints Under Inquiry.
Inspector Albert J. Headley, whose inspection district embraces the Twelfth Precinct, has been investigating the complaint for six weeks, but had been unable to gather enough evidence to warrant an arrest.
Poole, who was 39 years old, drove a radio scout car attached to the Twelfth Precinct. For the past few days he had been frequently in the vicinity of the Soldiers Home, and was known to many of the inhabitants of the section.
The belief that the shooting was the outgrowth of “strong-arm methods,” it was learned, was expressed at a conference held directly after the murder in the Twelfth Precinct, which was attended only by Assistant Superintendent William S. Shelby, Inspector Frank S.W. Burke and Inspector Headley.
“I shot a chicken and missed it,” Davis said to Roper when arrested.
Prisoner Highly Nervous
To Lieut. Roper’s question regarding the shooting Davis replied: “What shooting? I thought I heard some shooting but I thought I was dreaming.”
The prisoner was so nervously overwrought from excessive drinking that it was necessary for policemen to support him. His body trembled, as if with the ague, when he was brought to the Twelfth Precinct. So irrational was he, that detectives deferred questioning him until today.
When informed that Davis was being held in connection with the murder, Col. L.R. Dunbar, director of the home, expressed the opinion that when the truth was known it would be found that the police were on the wrong track. He said that Davis, a psychopathic case, was not given to violent tendencies and there was no reason to believe that he would suffer from an attack of any sort which would cause him to commit the crime. “Davis is a veteran of the World War and he is about 45 years old. He has been at Soldiers Home a little less than a year.
In the Twelfth Precinct are three other inmates of the home, who are said to have participated in the drinking party. They were rounded up by Precinct Detective Charles A. Berry.
Davis Named As Killer
They are: Neal H. Gillis, 55 years old; Leroy Pyler, 60 years old; and Percy Irving, 56 years old, all inmates of the home. They are held for investigation. Pyler identified Davis as the man who fired upon Poole.
Neither Pyler nor Irving were able to give any description of the shooting. The only lucid account was given by Gillis.
He told Capt. Edward J. Kelly and Detective Sergts. John A. Flaherty and Thomas Sweeney that Poole, Pyler, a man named “Cummings,” Irving and he were sitting in the woods. Gillis said he was 10 feet away from the others, who were clustered under a tree.
Presently Davis came along and joined the group, Gillis said. He remained there for a few minutes when he suddenly leaped to his feet and drew a pistol. He fired three shots in rapid succession, one of which struck Poole in the back of the neck.
Spine Severed by Bullet.
The bullet severed the spine and the spinal cord, then coursed upward into the brain. Death was instantaneous according to Deputy Coroner Joseph Rogers.
All of Poole’s companions fled. Detective Berry found the pistol in a clump of bushes, 70 feet from the murder spot, where it had been thrown by Davis while in flight. The gun was brought to the Twelfth Precinct.
Cummings, the missing member of the party, was being sought by police last night. The detectives know his haunts, they said, and expect to take him into custody today.
Davis Appears Surprised.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Shelby asked Davis what he knew about the shooting. “This is all news to me?” Davis replied, “I’m all at sea. I thought I was going to have chicken for supper. I shot at one and missed it.”
That Poole had been with the group about an hour was established when Patrick F. O’Connor, bondsman, told a Post reporter that he had seen Poole walking along the wall near the Soldiers Home Grounds about 4:30. He was walking rapidly, O’Connor said, and did not answer O’Connor salutation. Poole was then walking toward the spot where he was killed. O’Connor was in the vicinity on business.
Gillis told detectives that there was no apparent provocation for the shooting.
Traded Watch for Gun
“Where did you get the gun?” Davis was asked by a Post reporter.. “I traded a watch for it,” he replied. “To whom?” “A colored man.” “What did you want the gun for?” “To kill chickens. I saw them running all around the woods.”
Poole was not on duty. He began his annual leave on August 2. He was dressed in khaki trousers, a shirt and shoes, when killed. For the past few days, police learned, he had been seen loitering in the woods where he was killed.
Near Poole’s body, was several bottles which evidently contained liquor, and several ginger ale bottles. Whether they had been used by the group had not been determined.
Poole is survived by his widow, Mrs. Teresa Poole, and two daughters, Dorothy Mildred Poole, 17, and Thelma Virginia Poole, 13. They live in a modest second floor apartment at 3817 Georgia Avenue, NW.
Besides his immediate family he is survived by an older brother, William Poole, of 52 Milmargon Street, NW, and a younger brother, Le Roy Poole, of Eighth and Rittenhouse Street, NW; as well as two sisters, Miss Mary Poole, of 3817 Georgia Avenue and Mrs. Alice Beahn, who lives on Emerson Street.
A Washingtonian by birth, Poole was raised and attended the Phelps and Brightwood schools here. Like his brothers, he was a carpenter by trade, but went on the police force in 1918. He was married in 1913.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 21, 1931, PAGE 18.
Veteran Arraigned In Killing of Poole
Plea of Not Guilty Is Filed for Alleged Slayer of Policeman.
Unable to stand, and apparently suffering from St. Vitus disease, Bert Davis, former inmate of the United States Soldiers Home, yesterday was arraigned before Justice F. Dickerson Letts, of the District Supreme Court, on an indictment charging him with murder in the first degree.
Davis, who is now undergoing a series of mental examinations, is charged with having fatally shot Policeman Charles D. Poole, of the Twelfth Precinct, last August 4. Davis, Poole and others are said to have been engaged in a drinking spree when Davis suddenly leaped to his feet, whipped out a revolver, and shot Poole through the neck.
Davis professed ignorance of the shooting when he was asked how he desired to plead. On the recommendation of Acting United States Attorney Walter M. Shea. Justice Letts recorded a not guilty plea, and continued further proceedings until Dr. D. Percy Hickling, District alienist, has had an opportunity to report on the mental condition of Davis.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 31, 1931, PAGE 14.
Policeman’s Killer Adjudged Insane
Jury’s Decision Is Given in Case of Bert Davis After Short Hearing.
Wheeled into Criminal Court in an invalid’s chair, Bert Davis, indicted as the slayer of Policeman Charles D. Poole, of the Twelfth Precinct, was adjudged of unsound mind by a lunacy jury yesterday in a ceremony that for briefness was one of the shortest hearings on record.
Attorney August H. Moran, for Davis, placed Dr. D. Percy Hickling, District alienist on the stand, asked him but three questions, and submitted his case. The jury arose and voted the man of unsound mind.
Meanwhile Davis, apparently unaware of the seriousness of the case, sat hunched over in his chair, chewing a piece of his shirt. The decision of the jury does not carry with it freedom from the possibility of at some time facing the indictment.
Davis shot and killed Poole August 4, in the vicinity of the Soldiers Home grounds.
OFFICER CHARLES D. POOLE IS ON THE OFFICIAL M.P.D.C. LIST OF OFFICERS KILLED “IN THE LINE OF DUTY”.
HIS 1917 WORLD WAR I DRAFT REGISTRATION CARD READS:
CHARLIE DORSEY POOLE, DOB 3-6-1892, MARRIED WITH ONE CHILD, WORKING AS A CARPENTER FOR HARRY WARDMAN. HE AND HIS FAMILY WERE LIVING AT 5207 ILLINOIS AVE, NW, CHARLIE WAS DESCRIBED AS TALL, MEDIUM BUILD, BLUE EYES, BROWN HAIR.
POOLE’S WIFE, TERESA, DIED EIGHT YEARS AFTER HER HUSBAND IN 1939, AND IS BURIED AT CEDAR HILLS CEMETERY.
THE WASHINGTON POST NEVER MENTIONED THE SUSPECT, BERT DAVIS, AGAIN. HE APPARENTLY NEVER REGAINED HIS SANITY OR WAS TRIED FOR THE MURDER.