Correctional Officer Royal C. Cline

Correctional Officer Royal C. Cline

United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Government

End of Watch Monday, May 23, 1938

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Royal C. Cline

Correctional Officer Royal Cline was beaten to death with a hammer by three inmates who were attempting to escape from Alcatraz Prison. Following Officer Cline's murder the inmates attempted to take over a guard tower. The guard inside shot and killed one subject, seriously wounded another, and the third surrendered.

The other two, 22 and 25, were sentenced to life for Officer Cline's murder. One inmate started his sentence in Alcatraz in 1935. He had been serving a 30 year sentence in Texas for bank robbery. He escaped, was soon captured, and sent to Alcatraz. In 1936 he seriously injured fellow inmate Al Capone by stabbing him in the back. He was paroled on January 30, 1958.

The other 22-year-old inmate was sent to Alabama's state prison for life for murder, bank robbery, and several other crimes in 1933. In 1934 he was sent to the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary where within days he almost escaped. He was transferred to Alcatraz a week later. After he killed Officer Kline he was moved to solitary confinement. He had been there eight years when the May 1946 riot broke out. The rioters tried there best to get him out, but because he was considered Alcatraz's most dangerous inmate the bars had been electrified and they had to back off. Even though he was in solitary he had managed to plan the riot but had to just watch it from a small window. He was eventually released from solitary and in 1963, was transferred to Leavenworth, and then back to Atlanta. In 1974 because his health was so bad he was released. He died a few weeks later in Dayton, Ohio.

The guard in the watch tower, Officer Harold Stites, was shot and killed during that May 1946 riot.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Location California
  • Weapon Blunt object; Hammer
  • Offender One shot and killed

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in Peace

I ask one thing - that in still, far-off days,
Someone who knew me should in their daily rounds,
Suddenly pause, caught by some sight or sound,
Some glance, some phrase, some trick of memory's ways
which brings me to mind, then I shall wait,
eager with hope, perhaps to hear -
“how great if he were with us still!”
And then at the end, all that I wish for is just -
“he was my friend!”

From “A Soldier's Epitaph” by David McNicholl

N Elias
Federal Law Enforcement Officer, USDOJ
Former Security Police Officer, USAF

May 28, 2017

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