Private Michael Donell Stephenson

Private Michael Donell Stephenson

Richmond County Board of Education Public Safety, Georgia

End of Watch Wednesday, July 16, 1997

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Michael Donell Stephenson

Private Michael Stephenson was shot twice and killed while making an arrest. He had responded to a burglary alarm at an elementary school at 4:30 am. Upon arriving at the scene he saw a subject walking on the school grounds carrying a backpack.

He detained the suspect and placed him in the rear of his cruiser without handcuffing him. To avoid complaints from parents, the Board of Education policy at the time prevented officers from handcuffing students.

The suspect had managed to conceal a gun in his hat and, while still seated in the back of the patrol car, opened fire on Private Stephenson as he spoke to a janitor who had responded to the alarm. Despite being wounded twice, Officer Stephenson was able to return fire, but did not strike the suspect.

The boy fled the scene but was later arrested. He was convicted of Private Stephenson's murder and was subsequently sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Private Stephenson had served with the Richmond County Board of Education Police Department for two years and had a total of six years experience in law enforcement. He is survived by his wife and two young sons.


  • Age 29
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge 19

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 22 Reflections

God forbid he had handcuffed a student. How terribly sad that short minded individuals who have never in their lives done any kind of police work are allowed to dictate policy that, in this particular instance, caused your murder. The impression is given that now that the policy has been changed. We can only pray that is the case.

Private Stevenson, being a father, you know what it's like to raise kids and being a cop in a school system, you know that there are more good kids than bad, but the bad ones can be dangerous. You know it better than almost anyone.

At least you had the means to fight back. Some police officers are not afforded those tools which could potentially save their lives or the lives of others. I grant you, having a firearm that night didn't save you, but it may have saved the life of the custodian. Who knows if your murderer would have gone on to kill that person as well? How many lives will be lost before simple minded administrations wake up to the reality that, Police Officers should be armed.

Your sacrifice was not in vain, but a terrible tragic loss for the RCBE, your Brothers and Sisters in Blue, and especially for those who knew and loved you best.

On this 18th anniversary of your sacrifice, I honor you and know that God has Blessed you and hope and pray you are eternally at Rest, Brother.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Dept.

July 16, 2015

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