Memorial to George W. Shinault

End of Watch: August 14, 1932
Rank: Officer, Badge No. N/A
Years of Service: 6 years, 6 months
Age: 38
Location of Death: 39 P Street, NW

 

Circumstance:

Officers Shinault and Ralph Edwards were operating Scout 11 and received a call for a fight. Officer Shinault walked up to the house at 39 P Street before his partner and was shot twice in the chest, without warning. As Officer Shinault was falling, he warned his partner, who chased the suspect, losing him in an alley. As Officer Shinault lay dying, a citizen robbed him of his revolver. 

Biography:
Officer Shinault was married and the father of five children.

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
(THE 1932 SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER GEORGE W. SHINAULT, AND THE TRAVESTY THAT FOLLOWED SEVEN YEARS LATER)
NOTE: On July 28, 1932, President Herbert Hoover ordered Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur to quell a riot involving World War I veteran “bonus marchers” who had invaded the city. During the riot four marchers attacked D.C. Police Officer George W. Shinault, then knocked him down, and beat him with clubs. Another officer opened fire to protect Shinault, giving Shinault, who was still on his back, a chance to draw, shoot and kill one of his attackers.

The shooting was witnessed by the D.C. Superintendent of Police, who declared it to be a justified use of force. Sixty marchers were also injured during the disturbance involving federal troops, D.C. Police, and over 5,000 marchers. The marcher’s camps were burned down by the troops which included infantry, mounted calvary, and tanks. Tear gas, charging calvary horses and rifle butts were used to disperse the protesters. They fled the city without obtaining their bonus money.

You will see references to the shooting by Officer Shinault in these articles.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED AUGUST 15, 1932, PAGE 1

POLICE SLAYER OF VETERAN, IN RIOT, IS KILLED
Shinault Shot Dead as He Answers Summons to Break Up Fight

CORDON THROWN OUT TO CAPTURE GUNMAN
Outgoing Trains Watched and Three Persons Are Held as Witnesses
Private George W. Shinault, Washington policeman who slew William J. Hushka, Chicago bonus marcher, in the riots of July 28, was shot to death last night, when he went with a fellow policeman to break up a fight in a house at 39 F Street, NW.

He was the third policeman to be slain in line of duty in the Capital in recent months.

Immediately after the shooting police broadcast a lookout for William Bullock, 38 years old, a resident of the F Street address. Persons in the house told them he was the slayer of the policeman. A police cordon was thrown around the block and every available man was brought into the city-wide search for him.

Outgoing Trains Watched

Outgoing trains were also watched. Investigators were told that Bullock formally lived at Fountain Inn, S.C.. As the search for him went on, two girls, a woman and a man were being held as witnesses to the shooting. Another girl and man were being sought.

A trick of fate lured Shinault to his death. He was on duty in a First Precinct scout car. His companion was Private Ralph D. Edwards.

They had just answered a call to Union Station Plaza, where James F. Nicholls, 31-year-old Georgetown University instructor, had collapsed. They had sent the dying man to the hospital and reported back in service.

Had Been Driving Car
“Scout car No. 11, go to 39 F Street, NW, a fight,” their radio droned.

Shinault and Edwards scrambled for their places in the car. Shinault had been driving all night, but in hurrying to get into the car, entered by the front door instead of the left.

“Aw,” he told Edwards, “I’m on the wrong side.” “That’s all right, I’ll drive this time,” Edwards replied, and took the wheel.

Edwards said he parked the car a few doors down from the F Street house and Shinault leaped out. Edwards prepared to follow and started searching for a flashlight. He discovered Shinault had taken it and before he had reached for his partner’s he heard two sharp reports, he said.

Shinault ran to the side of the scout car and dropped to his knee, fumbling for his service revolver as he did so.
“Look out, Ed,” he said. “That fellows got a gun.”

Before Edwards could move or reply, Shinault collapsed in a heap on the sidewalk. He had been shot twice, once near the heart and once in the right of his chest.

His companion leaped from the scout car and shouted to a crowd gathering to hurry the mortally wounded policeman to a hospital. Edwards dashed down a terrace to the scene of the shooting and saw Shinault’s slayer run through the front door. Edwards followed through the house and over two fences before losing the man in a maze of alleys.

Shinault, meantime, had been removed to Casualty Hospital where he was pronounced dead. His service revolver which he had managed to drag from the holster just before he collapsed was missing, presumably stolen by some one in the crowd that gathered around the body.

The slain policeman never had a chance for life. The house where the shooting occurred is situated back from the street; and is below the sidewalk level, the door being reached from an inclined terrace. Police were told the man was standing in the shadows by the doorway, waiting, and the policeman was shot twice as he put his hands out to open the gate. He probably never saw his assailant until the shots were fired.

Search is Started
Inspectors L.I.H. Edwards and Albert J. Headley took charge of the search for Sinault’s slayer and five scout cars, two Traffic Bureau cars and several from police headquarters were massed around the block a short time later.

Ploce held Evan Starks, 23, of 73 G Street, NW; Effie Matthews, 12, of 116 F Street, NW; and Susie Fletcher, 14, of 39 F Street, NW, for questioning in the case.

Shinault was 38 years old and joined the Metropolitan Police Department January 1, 1926. His superiors regarded him as a highly efficient officer with valuable “underground wires,” which aided him in several puzzling police cases. After the forays of the “mad sniper” in which one person was killed and several wounded by a person firing from an automobile. Shinault gave them several leads which led them to hope the case would be shortly solved. His tips led to the arrest of a group of men in Baltimore.

The slain policeman made his home at 1350 Franklin Street, NE. He is survived by his wife and five children.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 29, 1939, PAGE 2 (7 YEARS AND SIX ARRESTS LATER)

D.C. Returning Suspect in Killing of Policeman
Two Washington detectives left yesterday for Newark to return Willie Bullock, under indictment here for the fatal shooting of Policeman George W. Shinault in 1932. He was seized in Newark after an error in his fingerprint classification had been rectified recently.
Preparation for a speedy trial was being made last night.
Bullock has been arrested six times since the slaying of Shinault, it was revealed.

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 27, 1939

Willie Bullock Goes on Trial in Shinault Death

Witness Describes Policeman’s Shooting During Quarrel
After 7 years as a fugitive from justice, Willie Bullock, 39 year old, went to trial in District Court yesterday charged with the first degree murder of Police Officer George W. Shinault.

The trial will be continued to 10 a.m. today before Justice Laws, with Arthur J. McLaughlin, Assistant District Attorney, in charge of prosecution.

Eye-Witness Testifies
Willie Pearson testified yesterday afternoon that he was an eye-witness to the shooting of Shinault in front of 39 F Street, NW on August 14, 1932.

According to Pearson, Bullock and Susie Fletcher, his “girl”, were quarreling loudly when the police scout car arrived to investigate the disturbance. Shinault stepped from the automobile, he said, and asked: “What’s going on here?”

Had Slain Bonus Marcher
“Willie backed away and shot twice. Mr. Shinault backed away groaning and called to the other officer in the car to be careful,” Pearson declared.

Shinault was slain only a few weeks after he had fatally shot a Chicago was veteran during the bonus march riots of July 28, 1932.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JULY 1, 1941

Duress Claim Wins New Trial For Convicted Police Slayer
Willie Bullock, 39, won a new trial yesterday for the killing of Patrolman George W. Shinault here nine years ago. Bullock had been under a death sentence.

Bullock claimed that after he was caught in April 1939, the Washington police beat him until his mouth and nose bled and he was dizzy and almost blind with pain. He signed a confession.

“The practice of extorting confessions from poor and ignorant men,” said Justice Henry W. Edgerton for the United States Court of Appeals, has been condemned by the Supreme Court. “No such practice shall send any accused to his death.”

Bullock will not again be in danger of the electric chair. Justice Edgerton, in stating the specific ground of the new trial order, said the evidence would not support a verdict of murder in the first degree, which required “premeditation and deliberation” of the crime.

Chief Justice D. Lawrence Groner and Justice Fred Vinson concurred in the decision.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 10, 1950

Death Takes Slayer of Policeman
Willie Bullock, who killed a Washington policeman in 1932, died early yesterday of a cerebral hemorrhage at Gallinger Hospital.
Arrested seven years after he fatally shot Metropolitan Police Pvt. George W. Shinault, the 50-year-old Bullock was serving a 20 year sentence at Lorton Reformatory on a second degree murder conviction.

Tuesday, he suffered a stroke which paralyzed his left side and was transferred from the hospital at Lorton to Gallinger Hospital at 4 p.m. Wednesday. He died there at 4:40 a.m. yesterday.

Shinault was killed by gunfire August 14, 1932, when he and Pvt. Ralph D. Edwards were sent to 39 F Street to investigate a report of a fight.

Police at first believed Shinault had been shot in retaliation for killing William Hushka in line of duty during the bonus army uprising of July 1932. Then they learned Bullock’s identity and began a nationwide search for him.

Bullock was arrested several times in other cities but was released because of an error in classification of his fingerprints, later corrected.

He was arrested finally in Newark, N.J., in April 1939, and returned to Washington, where he was convicted in District Court of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The Court of Appeals reversed the verdict, holding that premeditation was not proven. Granted a new trial, Bullock pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in jail in June 1943.

 

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There were at least 23 Washington Post articles written about this case.

Officer Shinault’s widow was left alone to raise their five children and witness the events for the next seven years which included the suspect being arrested and released in error six times and then see the wheels of justice find a new meaning for the term “premeditation and deliberation.”