Officer William Leopold Cotter

Officer William Leopold Cotter

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California

End of Watch Monday, July 27, 1903

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William Leopold Cotter

Officer William Cotter was stabbed to death as 13 prisoners escaped from the Folsom Penitentiary. The prisoners, who were armed with knives and razors, attacked the prison staff. They stabbed and killed Officer Cotter and seriously wounded several other members of the prison guard staff.

The suspects then took th officers guns and escaped from the prison by using the prison guards as shields as they fled. Two suspects were shot and killed during the ensuing manhunt. The remaining 11 were arrested and returned to prison. Two were executed for the murder and one committed suicide in his cell.

Two members of the state militia were also shot and killed during the manhunt.


  • Age 54
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Stabbed
  • Weapon Edged weapon
  • Offender Two shot and killed

Most Recent Reflection

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Thank you for your service and please know that your sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

July 27, 2020

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