Patrolman Thomas J. Smith

Patrolman Thomas J. Smith

Cleveland Division of Police, Ohio

End of Watch Tuesday, March 9, 1993

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Thomas J. Smith

Patrolman Smith died as a result of complications from gunshot wounds sustained 25 years earlier during the Glenville Riots. He was attempting to rescue three other officers who had been shot. He had pulled two to safety and was attempting to rescue the third when he was shot in the spine.

He remained in the hospital for 22 months and remained paralyzed after being released. He continued working for the department in a reduced capacity until retiring in 1987. He was re-admitted to the hospital on February 2, 1993, and died as a result of the complications one month later.

At the time of the incident, Patrolman Smith was a United States Army veteran and had served with the Cleveland Police Department for 5 years. He was survived by his wife and child.

The five days of riots began in the city's Glenville neighborhood when two civilian tow truck drivers, wearing uniforms similar to police uniforms, were shot in an ambush by heavily armed snipers while checking an abandoned car.

Over 50 officers responded to the initial shooting call and were ambushed by heavily armed militants. A total of seven people were killed and 15 wounded in the ensuing gunfire. Patrolman Wolff was one of the first officers on the scene and was shot in the face by a high-powered rifle. Lieutenant Jones was shot and killed while on foot at the corner of East 124th and Auburndale. Patrolman Golonka was shot and killed when he and other officers pursued several of the snipers into an alley and exchanged gunfire with them.

The leader of the militant group eventually turned himself in after 200 National Guard personnel were mobilized. The man was convicted and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Several of the other militants were arrested and convicted as well.


  • Age 57
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Tuesday, July 23, 1968
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Leader died in prison in 1978

prison riot, rescue

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May you rest in peace in Heaven, Patrolman Smith.

Patrolman Kenneth Collins
South Amherst Police Department

March 11, 2024

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