Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 7 months
Badge # Not available
Cause: Automobile accident
Special Officer Louis Shaw was killed when the patrol car he was sitting in was struck from behind on the Richmond Highway (modern day Route 1).
Officer Shaw and another officer were transporting a prisoner from the Alexandria police station back to the Arlington County Jail, when they stopped at the scene of an accident in Alexandria, just south of Four Mile Run Creek. The prisoner had been arrested for stealing a car from an Arlington County restaurant earlier in the morning. He had been pursued by a Fairfax County Sheriff's deputy and crashed into a fence at Potomac Yards railroad depot at 0350 hours. The man was taken to the Alexandria police department by the deputy. Arlington County Police were then notified and Officer Shaw and the other officer were sent to pick up the prisoner.
By the time they passed the original accident scene on the way back to Arlington County, at approximately 0500 hours, a wrecker was attempting to recover the stolen car. The officers stopped and Officer Shaw's partner began directing traffic around the activity, while Officer Shaw remained in the car with the prisoner. The other officer had waved several cars passed the scene when a Shell Oil Company truck approached. The driver of the truck did not see the officer waving his flashlight or hear him yelling to stop. The truck struck the back of the patrol car at approximately 30 mph, throwing it 75-feet into a telephone pole. The police car's gas tank ruptured on impact and the car was engulfed in flames.
Witnesses at the scene of the accident tried to free Officer Shaw and the prisoner, but the flames were too hot and they were unable to reach the car. The flames were so hot that the bullets in Officer Shaw's revolver discharged. Both Officer Shaw and the prisoner burned to death in the car.
The driver of the Shell Company truck was arrested and charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. On March 27, 1936, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision and the trial was declared a mistrial. The Commonwealth's attorney dropped all charges and the driver was freed.
Officer Shaw had been appointed as a Special Officer on May 11, 1935. He was single at the time of his death. He was buried in Smith's Chapel Cemetery in Dranesville, Virginia.