Detective Joseph Robert Free

Detective Joseph Robert Free

Houston Police Department, Texas

End of Watch Friday, October 18, 1912

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Joseph Robert Free

Residents of a rooming house complained to the police chief that Floyd Buckingham had been making insulting and rude remarks to female occupants. The chief dispatched Detectives Joseph Robert Free and T.N. Reneau to investigate. It was later learned that two mounted officers had answered a call at the rooming house earlier but Buckingham was not in his room. When the detectives arrived several women told them Buckingham was demented and acting crazy for days. They neglected to tell the detectives he was armed with a large caliber pistol. As the two detectives entered the room Buckingham shot and wounded Detective Free. Detective Reneau moved Free out of the doorway and both detectives returned fire. Buckingham was struck in the right breast and died at the scene.

Detective Free was struck in the right side of his stomach and the bullet penetrated his liver. He died on October 18. He was married and had four children. He was buried in the Prairie Lea Cemetery in Brenham, Washington County. He had been on the police force for six years.


  • Age 30
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Sunday, October 13, 1912
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Killed by officer

Most Recent Reflection

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Heroes live forever, Detective Free, and we will never forget. Thank you for the sacrifice you made for the citizens of Houston and the great State of Texas.

Greater Houston C.O.P.S.

October 18, 2013

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