Patrolman J. Coleman Dawson

Patrolman J. Coleman Dawson

Owensboro Police Department, Kentucky

End of Watch Saturday, June 1, 1912

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J. Coleman Dawson

Patrolman Coleman Dawson was shot and killed and another officer was shot and wounded while attempting to arrest a suspected horse thief just across the state line near Rockport in Spencer County, Indiana.

The suspect had brought a horse, stolen in Indiana, to Owensboro and sold it, investing part of the proceeds in two revolvers. Upon his return to Indiana, the Spencer County sheriff called for assistance from officers in Owensboro. Shortly before 9 p.m, the sheriff heard several shots and soon thereafter found the body of Patrolman Dawson and his wounded partner on a country road nearby.

Despite initially eluding a posse organized by the sheriff, the suspect was captured two weeks later at a rooming house in St. Louis, Missouri, and returned to Indiana. Authorities had learned of the suspect's location from a letter he sent which was intended for his girlfriend. The letter also revealed his real identity, an Indiana parolee with a lengthy criminal record. On Nov. 5, 1912, he escaped along with three other male prisoners from the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville, Indiana. He was recaptured four years later, charged with second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, where he ultimately died in 1931.

Patrolman Dawson had served with the Owensboro Police Department for 15 years. He was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Age 45
  • Tour 15 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Indiana
  • Weapon Handgun; Revolver
  • Offender Died in prison


Most Recent Reflection

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Time may have passed but you are not forgotten. I believe as long as someone remembers you or speaks your name, you are still with us.
Thank you for your heroism.
GOD Bless

Detention Officer A.Zambito

June 1, 2015

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