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Deputy Sheriff Robert R. Coleman | Gonzales County Sheriff's Department, Texas Gonzales County Sheriff's Department, Texas

Deputy Sheriff

Robert R. Coleman

Gonzales County Sheriff's Department, Texas

End of Watch: Wednesday, November 4, 1896

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 38

Tour: 5 years

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Incident Date: 11/3/1896

Weapon: Handgun

Offender: Killed

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Several months earlier, Deputy Coleman had arrested Claud Rhodes for gambling or permitting gambling in his house. Rhodes had cursed the deputy and bad blood existed between the deputy and the Rhodes family. The sheriff had requested that Deputy Coleman maintain the peace on Election Day in the community of Waelder. Coleman was seen arresting at least one man and carrying him to jail. Ed Rhodes started questioning Coleman’s authority to make an arrest, and Coleman warned him that he would be arrested if he created a disturbance. Later Ed Rhodes did just that, and caused Deputy Coleman to order him again to be quiet or face arrest. Bill Rhodes, Claud’s father and Ed’s brother, started cursing Deputy Coleman and challenging his authority. Deputy Coleman drew his pistol and knocked Bill Rhodes to the ground. The family took Bill Rhodes into a store, and his son, Claud, furnished him with a pistol. Bill Rhodes charged the deputy and both men starting firing until their pistols were emptied, and then they struck each other with the empty weapons. Ed Rhodes then struck Deputy Coleman in the head with a billiard cue, and another brother named Yearby tried to stab the deputy. Coleman died the next day from two bullet wounds. Bill Rhodes lived another week and died from his wounds.

Claud, Yearby and Ed Rhodes were indicted for the murder of Coleman. The charges against Claud Rhodes were dismissed and it is unknown if Yearby Rhodes was ever tried. Ed Rhodes was tried, convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. He appealed and the case was reversed and remanded for a new trial. It is unknown at this time if he was ever retried.

Deputy Sheriff Coleman was survived by his wife, three sons, and two daughters; his youngest daughter was born after his death.

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In memory and honor of the 120th anniversary of the untimely death of Robert R. Coleman. I wish I had known you.

Sally Gohlke Johnson
November 4, 2016


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