City Marshal Walter Wright Pitman

City Marshal Walter Wright Pitman

Wharton Police Department, Texas

End of Watch Saturday, November 9, 1935

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Walter Wright Pitman

City Marshal Walter Pitman suffered a fatal heart attack after dragging a drunken man to the jail.

Marshal Pitman served with the Wharton Police Department for 15 years and had previously served as a constable for four years. He was survived by his wife and two daughters. He was buried in the Wharton City Cemetery.

Marshal Walter Pitman was reported to have been one of the luckiest lawmen to ever wear a badge. In 1916 Pitman ran for constable of Precinct One in Wharton County and won. Pitman cut a deal with the sheriff to live in the jail in exchange for helping run the jail. Pitman’s precinct covered the county seat of Wharton and policed the city also. On September 15, 1917, Constable Pitman tried to arrest Francisco Lopez for being drunk in public. Lopez drew a Colt .38-caliber pistol and fired two rounds. Constable Pitman drew his single-action Colt .45 caliber pistol and fired back and his first bullet went into the drunkard’s pistol muzzle and jammed his gun. The slug broke into half and struck the suspect’s hand causing him to drop the pistol. The constable’s second shot hit Lopez in the shoulder and he started running. Pitman arrested the man shortly thereafter. Lopez was fined $200 and sentenced to one year in jail for unlawfully carrying a weapon and a five year suspended sentence for assault with intent to murder.

On June 26, 1920, Constable Pittman and Deputy Sheriff Harry McCormick went to arrest a man for tying a piece of paper on a dog’s tail and saturating it with gasoline and setting it on fire. Deputy McCormick was unarmed. The suspect fled inside and the man’s wife and brother got upset. Constable Pitman got the suspect to the front porch and knocked him to the ground with his pistol. The wife charged him and the brother came out with a 30-30 rifle and seized Constable Pitman’s pistol and shot Deputy McCormick in the head. Pitman fled and avoided being hit by three pistol rounds and seven rifle rounds. A manhunt ensued and a posse killed the suspect and his brother. A mob lynched a couple of cousins of the suspects. The wife received a 5-year prison sentence.

After two terms as a constable, Pitman worked as a carpenter and grocery clerk before winning the city marshal position in Wharton. In 1932 Pitman was recognized by Ripley’s Believe It or Not for the jammed gun shoot-out and won a trip to Cuba. Later that summer Pitman and another lawman had a run-in with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. When the lawmen attempted to stop the pair, someone inside opened fire as the car made a U-turn and escaped.


  • Age 51
  • Tour 19 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Heart attack

arrest, DIP

Most Recent Reflection

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Heroes live forever, Marshal Pitman, and we will never forget. Thank you for the sacrifice you made for the citizens of Wharton and the great State of Texas.

Greater Houston C.O.P.S.

November 9, 2013

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