Detective Benjamin Tobias Thornton

Detective Benjamin Tobias Thornton

Indianapolis Police Department, Indiana

End of Watch Monday, June 18, 1900

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Benjamin Tobias Thornton

Detective Benjamin Thornton succumbed to pneumonia after a multiday stakeout for a murder suspect at 1118 Lafayette Street in Indianapolis.

On May 31 and June 1, 1900, there was torrential rainfall in Indianapolis. During the day, Detective Thornton was searching for bicycle thieves. For two nights, he participated in the stakeout for the murder suspect who killed Patrolman John Shipp of the Cleveland Division of Police on May 6, 1900, until the suspect was captured on Saturday, June 2, 1900. Detective Thornton became ill but continued to work until June 8, 1900, when he was confined to his house with acute pneumonia and inflammation of the left lung. Ten days later, he passed away at his home at 11:30 p.m.

Detective Thornton was born a slave in Virginia and had fled in 1862 with help from the Fourteenth Massachusetts and the Sixteenth Indiana Regiments. He traveled to Indiana, attended school, and worked various jobs until he was appointed by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in May 1875.

Detective Benjamin had served with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for 25 years and was appointed detective in 1886. He was survived by his wife and daughter.


  • Age 51
  • Tour 25 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Duty related illness
  • Incident Date Saturday, June 2, 1900

stakeout, weather

Most Recent Reflection

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You became a hero of mine as I learned about your bravery and courage.
Grateful for the IMPD family who worked hard to ensure you are remembered and recognized today as your name will read at the 2024 National Police Week in the State Capitol.
Thank you for your service and rest in peace.


May 13, 2024

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