Memorial to Harry E. Hamilton

End of Watch: November 1, 1946
Rank: Detective, Badge No.  N/A
Age: 39
Years of Service: N/A
Location of Death: florida Avenue and G Street, NW

 

 

Circumstance:

Detective Hamilton and Detective Sergeant Rouse were approaching an occupied stolen auto when the driver spotted the officer and proceeded to drive off. The officers grabbed onto the sides of the auto and held on as the car accelerated straight into a tractor trailer. Officer Hamilton died from a broken back and fractured skull. Sergeant Rouse survived his injuries.

 

Biography:

Detective Hamilton was married with three children. 

 

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

THE DEATH OF DETECTIVE HARRY E. HAMILTON DURING A STOLEN CAR CHASE ON NOVEMBER 1, 1946. INCLUDED IS THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEATH OF THE SUSPECT AT D.C. JAIL, AND AWARDS WON FOR THE VALOR DISPLAYED DURING THE APPREHENSION.

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 2, 1946, PAGE 1

D.C. Officer Dies in Effort To Capture Auto Thief
Man Faces Murder Charge After Car Hits Truck in Escape Attempt
A courageous attempt to capture the driver of a stolen car brought death yesterday to Precinct Detective Harry E. Hamilton.
Hamilton and Detective Sergt. Clyde O. Rouse approached a stolen car at about 4:50 a.m. yesterday, and clung to the sides of the car when the driver roared away.

The stolen car crashed into a trailer truck a few seconds later and Hamilton was fatally injured. He died at 12:30 p.m. at Casualty Hospital. Doctors said his back had been broken and his skull and right leg fractured.

Rouse’s Condition Serious
Rouse’s condition was serious, but he was expected to recover. The driver of the stolen auto, Charles W. Scott, 24, of 476 O St. NW, was later charged in Municipal Court with murder and auto theft.

The Post is contributing $100 to the wife and family of the detective who lost his life in the line of duty. Any donations received by The Post will be forwarded to the Police Department. Hamilton, 39, lived at 821 Elder St. NW, with his wife, his aged mother and his three children. He had a son, 17, and daughters, 16 and 10.

Following a meeting with Maj. Harvey G. Callahan, police superintendent, Capt. Floyd Truscott of the Thirteenth Precinct to which Hamilton was attached, announced that contributions for the Hamilton family will be accepted by the Police Department.

Monthly Pension Provided
The detective’s widow has been assured of $1500 from the Policemen’s Relief Association, $200 from the Policemen’s Association, $100 from the Police Retiring Association and a monthly pension of $90.

Hamilton had been assigned to a headquarters automobile squad cruiser for the first time in his police career Thursday night.

Rouse, 45, of 1633 R St. SE., his partner, is a regular member of the automobile squad.
In the vicinity of Florida Ave. and Q St. NW., they spotted a car bearing Missouri tags, which had been reported stolen Thursday night. The car was parked.

Circling the block, they pulled up behind the parked car, then approached on foot, Hamilton on the left or driver’s side, and Rouse on the right side. They observed at least one other person in the car.

Driver Starts Away
The driver became aware of their approach, started up the car and began to pull away. Both detectives lunged for the car. Each obtained a handhold.

The car careened down Florida Ave. at a mile-a-minute speed. Several times the driver swerved the car up on the curb in an effort to dislodge the detectives.

Hamilton, his feet dragging over the pavement, was fighting for his life to hang on. Rouse, more fortunate, had managed to partly crawl in the window on the right hand side where a girl was sitting. The detectives were handicapped by the absence of running boards on the car.

Rouse was fighting to reach either the emergency brake or the ignition switch when the car reached New York Ave. NE At this intersection the stolen car plowed headlong into a trailer truck which was traveling down a hill on New York Ave.

Driver Hides Under Car
The impact threw Rouse and the girl through the windshield. Hamilton was thrown forward into the wreckage so that his body was partly trapped between the auto and the truck.

Pvts. W. E. Clark and R.A. Issacs were sent to the scene in an AIU car. As Issacs alighted from the cruiser, a bystander shouted that the driver of the crashed car had fled into a parking lot nearby. Issacs found Scott, bleeding from head lacerations, hiding under a parked car.

The detectives, Scott, and Scott’s companion, Marion Holston, 20, of 16 Q St. NW., and Howard C. Stubefield, 31, of Greensboro, N.C., driver of the trailer truck, were taken to Casual Hospital.

Rouse and the girl both suffered fractured legs and lacerations, Scott was treated for lacerations. Stubefield was treated for cuts on his leg and released.

During the day, Scott was brought before Judge George D. Neilson in Municipal Court and arraigned on an auto theft charge. Bond was set at $10,000 and the case was continued until December 4.

Murder Charge Filed
While Scott was still in the U.S. Marshal’s room, Assistant District Attorney Evan Davis learned that Hamilton was in a dying condition and had Scott returned before Judge Neilson. It was then ordered by the court that Scott be held without bond.

Scott went before Judge Neilson a third time when news of Hamilton’s death reached the court. This time he was charged with murder and Judge Neilson ordered that he be taken to Gallinger Hospital for treatment and kept under police guard.
Police said this is Scott’s sixth arrest. He was arrested in 1940 and placed in the National Training School for Boys until the age of 21. His record shows arrests in 1941, 1943 and 1945 for unauthorized use of an automobile and one in 1945 for pocketbook snatching.

The death of Hamilton closely parallels that of Policeman Donald W. Downs, 27, who was run down and fatally injured August 31 at 7th St. and Maine Ave. SE., by Pvt. James Oliver Claire, 21, a Fort Belvoir, Va., soldier, who was allegedly drunk and fleeing police pursuit in a stolen car.

Claire Awaits Trial
Claire is now awaiting trial on a murder charge.
Hamilton joined the force in 1930 and was promoted to precinct detective in October 1943. During his police career, he had received several commendations.

Following word of Hamilton’s death, all Police Department flags were ordered placed at half-mast. It was announced that funeral services for the detective will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Hysong’s funeral home, 1300 N St. NW. Burial will be in Fort Lincoln Cemetery.

Police said the car spotted by Hamilton and Rouse belonged to Michael Efferson of 2840 16th St. NW., a test pilot employed by the Laister Kauffman Aircraft Co. Of St. Louis. Efferson reported his car stolen from 19th St. and Dupont Circle at 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 8, 1946, PAGE 8

POLICE GALLANTRY
Detective Harry E. Hamilton was killed last Friday in an automobile crash while on the running board of a stolen car (which he managed to mount at great risk) trying to apprehend the driver. It was a gallant deed done beyond the call of duty. His dependents include his wife, three children and his aged mother. His widow receives a $1500 benefit from the Police Relief Association and $200 from the Policemen’s Association. Both these are private organizations to which Detective Hamilton belonged. Under the law the District government contributes $75 toward the funeral of policemen killed in line of duty.

In addition, Mrs. Hamilton is entitled to a pension of $60 a month plus $10 for children under 16 from the Policemen’s and Firemen’s Pension Fund, a fund set up by the District into which each man contributes 3 ½ per cent of his salary. No provision is made for the dependent mother or for children over 16. It hardly needs pointing out that this total is pitifully inadequate for the living costs of a family of five. Certainly a generous response on the part of Washingtonians to the call of Superintendent of Police Callahan is in order to augment the benefits.

Public contributions, of course, will not solve the fundamental issue of how to provide more fully for families of policemen killed under such circumstances. The uncertainty of relying on the public is illustrated by the fact that while approximately $25,000 was collected for the family of Pvt. Donald E. Downes, who was killed last summer, only some $2000 had been contributed in the present instance when this was written. The sacrifice of the two men was equal, yet there is a marked disparity in the sums donated, due, perhaps, to the diversion connected with the election. Nor is there any reliable way of equalizing contributions for similar cases.

The answer, we believe, lies in making available to policemen generally some sort of governmentally backed insurance. Commercial insurance premiums for policemen are high, and the need is apparent for a special form of protection at low rates which they can afford to take out in substantial amounts. National Service Life Insurance up to $10,000 was provided at minimum cost to the soldiers and sailors who defended us during the war.

Do we owe less to the public servants who risk their lives to protect the population in time of peace?

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED DECEMBER 5, 1946, PAGE 3.

Scott Death Probe Ordered By Coroner
Demands for an investigation of the death of Charles W. Scott, 24, who died in police custody November 2, were granted yesterday when Coroner A. Magruder MacDonald ordered an inquest.

No date for the inquest was set, but Dr. MacDonald said it would be held as soon as witnesses were subpoenaed.
Scott, died in the District jail infirmary 36 hours after the stolen car he was driving crashed into a truck fatally injuring Detective Harry E. Hamilton, who clung to the side of the car in an effort to halt the driver.

A death certificate was held up in Scott’s death pending chemical and pathological examinations. On November 8, a verdict was issued attributing the death to shock from anti-tetanus serum.

The coroner’s order for the inquest went out yesterday after a 70-minute conference with Curtis P. Mitchell, Scott’s former attorney, Mrs. Dorothy K. Funn, legislative secretary of the National Negro Congress, and Mrs. Marguerite Henderson, also of the NNC.

Insistence on an inquest came less than a week after Scott’s death. The first request came from Mitchell. Later the NNC joined in the requests. At one time the District Commissioners rejected demands for an inquest asked by the NNC.
Exhumation of Scott’s body will be necessary, MacDonald, said yesterday, because a coroner’s jury was sworn in for the case on November 4, but was not called to duty.

In response to a request from the commissioners for a full report on the case. Police Chief Harvey G. Callahan, in his report Tuesday said:

“The Police Department stands ready at any time to cooperate fully in any investigation which may be ordered by competent authority.”

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JANUARY 26, 1947, PAGE M1

Scott Died of “Natural Causes”, No One to Blame, Says Jury
Charles W. Scott, 24-year-old death driver, died of “natural causes” and “there was no evidence of negligence on the part of any person or party.”

A six-man coroner’s jury returned the verdict at 5:42 p.m., yesterday, ending the second day of testimony-taking in one of the longest local inquests on record.

The jury made no attempt to designate the cause of death, which marked the final hours of inquest, with medical opinions differing sharply. Coroner A. Magruder MacDonald, who presided over the inquest, had signed Scott’s death certificate as “death due to anaphylactic shock following anti-tetanus treatment.”

The coroner’s finding, based on an autopsy by Deputy Coroner Bernard J. Murphy, was disputed by Dr. Robert S. Jason, chief pathologist at Howard University, who testified positively that Scott had died from “surgical shock” and not the rarer cause.

The “surgical shock” which caused Scott’s death, Dr. Jason said, was “induced by injury.” However, he stated, because Scott had an hereditary condition, such injuries “need not be severe” and may have been those sustained when the stolen car Scott was driving crashed into a truck.

The public inquest was ordered after repeated requests by Scott’s attorney, Curtis P. Mitchell, and the National Negro Congress. Scott died in the jail infirmary the day following the death of Detective Pvt. Harry E. Hamilton on November 1.
Hamilton succumbed to injuries suffered while clinging to the side of the stolen car Scott was driving when it crashed into a trailer truck at New York and Florida aves. A second detective, Sergt. Clyde Rouse, suffered leg fractures in the same accident.

Dr. Jason, who conducted an autopsy on Scott at a funeral home two days after one performed by Deputy Coroner Christopher J. Murphy, testified that microscopic findings showed “proofs positive” that the patient died of “surgical shock.”

Organs Showed “Engorgement”
“Just because there were no signs of fracture or severe concussion,” Dr. Jason said, “there is no reason to assume he died of anaphylactic shock. In fact, anaphylactic shock is so rare that it should be the last thing considered.”

The pathologist testified that his microscopic examinations of the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys and liver all showed evidence of “engorgement,” which he termed a “positive finding” in death due to surgical shock. Moreover, he volunteered, such evidence remains indefinitely after death and could still be found if the body were exhumed.

Microscopic “proofs” of anaphylactic shock were absent, he said.
Dr. Murphy, who had preceded Dr. Jason on the witness stand, stated under cross-examination as to the possibility of death from cause other than anaphylactic shock:
“There was no other cause of death.”

Dr. Roberts Testifies
He also emphatically denied any parts of Scott’s body were removed, excepting “that part of the ear where the bone was pulverized by drilling to reach the inner ear.” Earlier allegations were that “certain vital portions” of the head were missing when the body was turned over to the undertaker.

Dr. Joseph Thomas Roberts, medical officer at Gallinger Hospital and clinical professor for both Georgetown and George Washington universities, was called to the stand after Dr. Jason had testified.

 

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED NOVEMBER 19, 1947, PAGE B1

Detective Sergt. Rouse Wins Year’s Battle With Injuries
Detective Sergt. Clyde F. Rouse, 45, was back at work yesterday after a year’s absence from the police force because of serious injuries in the line of duty.

On November 1, 1946, his leg was crushed when he attempted to stop the driver of a stolen car. He was dragged several blocks before the auto crashed into a trailer truck.

His partner, Precinct Detective Harry E. Hamilton, 39, was fatally injured in the accident.

“It’s great to be back in harness again,” Rouse declared yesterday, as he worked over the files in the office of Lieut. Thomas Sullivan, in charge of precinct detectives. He will be kept on light duty for a while.

Rouse and Hamilton were riding in a headquarters auto squad cruiser when they spotted the stolen car at Florida Ave. and Q St. NW., about 4:30 a.m., November 1 of last year.

The driver, Charles W. Scott, 24, of 476 O St. NW., started to drive away when they approached the car on foot. Both men hung on to the sides of the car, as it careened down Florida Ave. at 60 miles an hour until it crashed into the truck.

Hamilton died of his injuries eight hours later. Scott died at the District Jail 24 hours later of a rare reaction to anti-tetanus serum.

For many months, Rouse lay in Casualty Hospital while doctors warned him that his leg might have to be amputated. Never giving up hope, he continually massaged and tried to exercise his leg. His efforts were rewarded. He returned to duty on his own two feet.

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PARTIAL WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 4, 1948, PAGE M1

Police, Fire Valor Awards Are Announced
Lieut. Clyde Rouse and Fireman Barnett Win Highest Honors Police Lieut. Clyde O. Rouse and Pvt. William D. Barnett, of the Fire Department, yesterday were awarded the 1947 Gold Medal, highest honor for District police and firemen.

The 1947 Police Department Silver Medal went posthumously to Precinct Detective Harry H. Hamilton, who lost his life in line of duty.

Honored for Heroism
Recipients of the honors are selected by a Committee of Award for Meritorious Service, appointed under a congressional act of 1929. The awards are based on the fiscal year.

The gold and silver medals were given Rouse and the late Hamilton for their bravery and personal heroism in apprehending Charles W. Scott, driver of a stolen car, November 1, 1946.

Both men were dragged several blocks at a mile-a-minute speed while hung on to the sides of the car, which eventually crashed into a trailer truck at Florida and New York avenues, NE.

Hamilton died the next day of multiple injuries. Rouse, who received a compound fracture of the leg, was hospitalized for months and returned to duty a year later.

At the time of the tragedy Rouse, then a detective sergeant, was attached to the auto squad. Hamilton was of the thirteenth precinct but was detailed to midnight cruise with Rouse.

Aide to Barrett
Police Chief Robert J. Barrett recently made Rouse, a member of the force since 1924, an acting lieutenant to serve as his chauffeur and personal aide. Rouse, who is 46, lives at 1623 R St. SE.