Officer Harold Humphrey Pearce

Officer Harold Humphrey Pearce

Independence Police Department, Iowa

End of Watch Thursday, January 5, 1956

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Harold Humphrey Pearce

Officer Pearce was shot and killed during an escape attempt by a teenage boy he had just arrested. Officer Pearce and his partner had arrested three boys and two girls after a short car chase and transported them back to the police department on the first floor of the Buchanan County Courthouse. They put the three boys in an internal room with Officer Pearce's partner watching them and the two girls in an outer room. One of the boys jumped from a window when he was permitted to use the bathroom. The boy then retrieved a shotgun from the backseat of their vehicle, which had been transported to the police department.

The suspect re-entered the department and pointed the shotgun at Officer Pearce. He then demanded that Officer Pearce remove his pistol with his left hand. As Officer Pearce complied, the boy shot him once in the chest with the shotgun. After freeing the two girls, the boy fled the scene but was later arrested.

The 18-year-old suspect was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. He was the youngest murderer ever to receive a death sentence in Iowa. His sentence was commuted to life in 1957. In 2021, he died in prison.

Officer Pearce had been with the Independence Police Department for two years. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, mother, and brother.


  • Age 52
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life. Died in 2021

escape attempt

Most Recent Reflection

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The man who killed Officer Pearce has died in prison at the age of 84. He died from natural causes after serving more than sixty-five years of his sentence. Our condolences go out to Officer Pearce’s friends and family.


December 10, 2021

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