Patrolman William Sanders

Patrolman William Sanders

Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio

End of Watch Sunday, March 11, 1888

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William Sanders

Patrolman William Sanders succumbed to injuries received three days earlier when his revolver exploded during roll call.

On February 7, William Sanders, United States Army Veteran, was nominated to appointed as a Patrolman and three days later on the 10th, his appointment was approved. By March 1, 1888, he was working as a Patrolman.

Five days later, at 1 a.m. on March 6, 1888, while patrolling his beat at Grandview Avenue and McMillan Street, Patrolman Sanders’ revolver slipped from his breast pocket, fell to the ground, and discharged. The bullet entered his foot through the ball of the heel.

Patrolman Sanders was removed by Patrol 6 to No. 14 Walnut Street and attended there by Dr. Jones.

Within a day or two, Patrolman Sanders was transported to City Hospital. Medical personnel probed for the bullet, but they failed to find it. On March 9, 1888, doctors cut into the opposite side of his heel hoping to find it there; but it was not found. Later in the day, he had violent bouts of hiccoughing which surgeons attributed to “great shock and irritation to the nervous system.” His temperature and pulse were very high as well. Amputation was considered to be the only solution, but his condition would not permit the operation. Shortly after midnight on March 11, 1888, Patrolman Sanders succumbed to septicemia and carditis, becoming the second officer in one year to die from an accidental discharge of a revolver fallen from a breast pocket.

Patrolman Sanders had served with the agency for only 10 days and had previously served with the United States Army. He was survived by his wife. He was buried with full military honors at Wesleyan Cemetery.


  • Age 30
  • Tour 1 week
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire (Inadvertent)
  • Incident Date Tuesday, March 6, 1888

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NEVER FORGET! On behalf of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, we honor the dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice of Patrolman William Sanders of the Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio and the additional 54 American Peace Officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this date in history.

Superintendent Joe Morbitzer
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation

March 11, 2020

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