Detective James Riley Ratliff

Detective James Riley Ratliff

Louisville Police Department, Kentucky

End of Watch Tuesday, December 30, 1969

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James Riley Ratliff

Detective James Ratliff and Patrolman Donald Gaskin were shot and killed when they responded to a robbery call at a local grocery store at 2328 Osage Avenue.

Two suspects were inside the store when Patrolman Gaskin arrived at the scene. The suspect ordered the store clerk to open the door, and as Patrolman Gaskin entered, he was shot by the suspect.

Detective Ratliff and his partner arrived just as Patrolman Gaskin was shot. As the detectives ran for cover, another shot was fired and struck Detective Ratliff.

During an ensuing shootout, two other officers and the two suspects were wounded. Patrolman Gaskin succumbed to his wounds before reaching the hospital. Detective Ratliff succumbed to his injuries approximately five hours later during surgery.

Both suspects were convicted of both murders and sentenced to death. Their sentences were later commuted to life. In 1980, they were paroled with the condition that they never return to Jefferson County.

Detective Ratliff had served with the Louisville Police Department for 23 years. He was survived by his wife and son.


  • Age 47
  • Tour 23 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .45 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life


Most Recent Reflection

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This incident happen before I joined the Louisville Division Of Police in 1973. I do remember when this incident happened and was informed during my recruit training.


Rondal A Birge (Sergeant Retired) LPD
Louisville Police, KY

December 30, 2020

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