Sheriff Robert E. Gatlin

Sheriff Robert E. Gatlin

Walton County Sheriff's Office, Florida

End of Watch Thursday, November 12, 1942

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Robert E. Gatlin

Sheriff Gatlin was shot and killed while executing a search warrant. Sheriff Gatlin and a Deputy went to an establishment with a search warrant to investigate reports of illegal shipments of whiskey. The storekeeper led the Sheriff and the Deputy to the back of the store, then attacked them. Sheriff Gatlin drew his weapon but the suspect was able to gain control of the weapon and shoot Sheriff Catlin and his deputy. The suspect was apprehended by a state trooper the next day after he found him hiding in an outhouse. The deputy recovered from his wounds.

The suspect was found guilty of Sheriff Gatlin's murder and sentenced to life. Upon appeal he was tried again, convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years hard labor. The Florida Supreme Court overturned the second conviction and he was again found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years. On July 21, 1945, he was released from prison after his conviction was overturned a third time.

Sheriff had served with the Walton County Sheriff's Officer for two years and was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Age 48
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Released in 1945

Most Recent Reflection

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Thinking of Sheriff Robert E. Gatlin and this tragic loss for Walton County. Tragically, Sheriff Gatlin is not the only Walton Sheriff murdered serving the citizens of Florida. The previous Sheriff, Daniel "Dorrie" Adkinson was also shot and killed in 1938. His wife took over becoming the 2nd woman sheriff in FL history. Our thoughts and prayers remain with these families and loved ones, and especially with the current Sheriff Michael Adkinson Jr. and his deputies. Your sacrifices are not forgotten.

Gary Howze, Director
Florida Office of the Attorney General

November 11, 2020

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