Police Officer James Thomas Sawyer

Police Officer James Thomas Sawyer

Custer Police Department, South Dakota

End of Watch Tuesday, June 13, 1972

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James Thomas Sawyer

Officer James Sawyer was shot and killed when he interrupted a burglary in progress at a local saloon. The suspects were able to take Officer Sawyer hostage. They then took him to a nearby hillside where they shot and killed him with execution style with his own weapon.

The suspect was convicted of Officer Sawyer's murder and sentenced to life without parole.

Officer Sawyer had served with the Custer Police Department for 2 years.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 11 Reflections

Although I don't remember meeting you as I was only a toddler when you left, my mother assured me we met. My mother and siblings spoke of you so much as I was growing up that you're time spent on the Custer Police Department had a significant impact on me. I've been a deputy for 12+ years. Thank you for being kind. For being fair. For being funny. For buying that woman's orange soda on a hot July day from the machine outside the police department. In many ways I've tried to follow the example in my career of the many stories I was told of you. Rest easy and in peace. I will never forget you.

D Lake Deputy Sheriff
South Dakota

May 11, 2018

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