Officer Spencer Roberts joined the Metropolitan Police Department on July 27, 1903, and was assigned to the 7th Precinct (Georgetown). He was then transferred to the 9th Precinct (525 9th Street, N.E.) in 1904. There, on December 23, 1904, on a snowy night, Officer Roberts reported to his precinct Lieutenant that he had been assaulted and robbed of his service revolver by two black suspects, one of whom he knew as “Hog-eye.” His uniform was torn, he had abrasions, and his baton was allegedly broken when he came into the station house to report the assault. Officer Roberts reported that he blew his whistle to summon help. (No mention was made of him going to a call box to immediately summon assistance)
Precinct Lieutenant Daley began an investigation and clearly doubted the officer’s story. He returned to the location that Officer Roberts indicated where the assault occurred, and with several other members of the force, canvassed the scene and interviewed witnesses, but could find no evidence of the struggle described, or anyone who heard Office Robert’s whistle. It was not clear what efforts were made to locate “hog-eye.”
This lack of corroboration, along with some possible ill feeling towards Officer Roberts by two other officers at the Precinct, lead to a five year ordeal, whereby Officer Roberts had to not only fight additional charges levied against him, but he felt compelled to resign under the weight of the actions pending against him. He then began a legal struggle for reinstatement that went all the way to Congress, by way of the Police Commissioners.
It turns out Officer Roberts wasn’t lying. He was assaulted and his revolver stolen by two men that snowy evening. It was later revealed that one of his fellow officers may have in fact heard his whistle to summon aid and believing it to be Officer Roberts; ignored it out of spite.
Officer Robert’s pistol was recovered in a pawn shop over a year after he had resigned, and the investigation revealed that the woman who pawned it was “Hog-eye’s” wife. Information was later developed that showed that he was assaulted and his pistol stolen by the two men. Despite these facts and evidence it took two more years for him to be reinstated. His lawyer went so far as to contact the Weather Bureau to confirm it was in fact snowing on the night in question.
In subsequent Trail Board hearing testimony, as then Captain Daley was being questioned, it was postulated that Officer Roberts had led them to the wrong location, being confused after having been beaten, and that helped spur doubt about his story. He was found “Not Guilty” of the charges preferred against him in 1909, and finally reinstated. But not before having to sell his furniture, work odd jobs and borrow money to keep his family whole.
Officer Roberts retired from the Police Department in good standing in 1924.