Detective Sergeant James Gallagher

Detective Sergeant James Gallagher

San Francisco Police Department, California

End of Watch Tuesday, February 3, 1920

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James Gallagher

Detective Sergeant James Gallagher became ill with Spanish Influenza while transporting a prisoner from Carlsbad, New Mexico.

He had gone to Carlsbad, New Mexico, to pick up a prisoner who was charged with complicity in the murder of a man the previous December. Detective Sergeant Gallagher turned custody of the prisoner over to two uniformed officers at the Ferry Building immediately upon his return to San Francisco. He returned home and died of complications of Spanish Influenza one week later. The prisoner gave a full affidavit to the San Francisco Police Department shortly after arriving at the prison simply for police records.

The affidavit stated "On the train ride back to San Francisco Detective Sergeant Gallagher became very ill near Barstow, California, and his prisoner got a hotel room for the both of them in town so Detective Sergeant Gallagher could get rest. His prisoner stated he then left the hotel room to get a shave at a local barber shop around the corner. After his shave, he returned to check on Detective Sergeant Gallagher and saw he was getting a fever and treated Detective Sergeant Gallagher with a cold towel on his neck and chest. The prisoner also stated that Detective Sergeant Gallagher was a restless sleeper the whole night and he could not have gotten no more than two hours of sleep. The prisoner then left in the middle of the night to grab milk at a local diner, to grab medicine, and to send a telegram to Detective Sergeant Gallagher's wife about his condition."

Detective Sergeant Gallagher had served with the San Francisco Police Department for 18 years. He was survived by his wife.

Effects of Spanish Flu on Law Enforcement

From 1918 to early 1919, the Spanish Flu pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed approximately 675,000 Americans. Many officers contracted this virus due to the requirements of their job.

The names of every officer who died in the line of duty from the Spanish Flu will likely never be known, but ODMP researchers continue to uncover new cases as part of our mission to never forget the fallen.

Please click here to view ODMP's Spanish Flu memorial listing all known fallen officers from the pandemic.


  • Age 48
  • Tour 18 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Duty related illness
  • Incident Date Saturday, January 24, 1920

communicable disease, Spanish Influenza, transport, warrant service

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in peace Detective Sergeant Gallagher.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

February 3, 2024

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