Police Officer Elmer H. Griffin

Police Officer Elmer H. Griffin

San Gabriel Police Department, California

End of Watch Sunday, February 7, 1926

Add to My Heroes

Elmer H. Griffin

Police Officer Elmer Griffin was shot and killed while apprehending bootleggers who were smuggling whiskey during Prohibition.

Officer Griffin stopped a car for speeding. He had a hunch that it was a booze car so, with the assistance of Officer Robert Bence, the four occupants along with their vehicle were thoroughly searched. They found 150 pints and half-pints of unlabeled whiskey underneath the rear seat, neatly wrapped in paper, and covered with blankets.

After informing the four they were under arrest, Bence ordered the men back inside the car and instructed them to drive to the San Gabriel jail. Both officers stood on the running boards of the booze car as it pulled away from the curb. With their eyes focused on the occupants, their hands firmly clutched the wooden grips of their revolvers, prepared for any emergency that might arise.

As the two officers looked down the road toward the jail, they occasionally cast a glimpse at their charges. It was completely unexpected when one of the suspects, placed a .38 caliber revolver on the window sill of the right passenger door and pressed the barrel firmly against the stomach of the Officer Griffin. Within a matter of seconds, a series of explosions filled the once quiet night.

Tumbling to the pavement, Griffin screamed out in horror that he had been shot. The gunfire continued as a different suspect pointed his revolver out the window and fired a round toward Bence. Bence did not completely comprehend what had happened until he too fell off the running board and onto the ground.

Although seriously wounded, Officer Griffin was able to fire three rounds towards two of the suspects who were fleeing on foot. One of the three rounds struck one of the suspects in the left shoulder.

Bence, by this time, got to his feet and began firing his revolver towards the men as they were exiting the vehicle. One round struck the suspect who had shot Officer Griffin in the left hip; however; neither he nor his accomplice was fazed by their injuries and continued running into the nearby orange groves. The booze car, swaying from side to side, rounded the corner onto Las Tunas Drive and disappeared from sight as it entered the city limits of Alhambra with the two remaining suspects.

Within minutes of his arrival at the hospital, officer Griffin was dead. The bullet had penetrated Griffin's stomach, going clear through his body, striking his spinal cord and paralyzing him. The doctors could not explain how Griffin was able to fire the three shots at the criminals with such an injury.

Three of the four suspects were eventually captured and tried for the murder of Officer Griffin and the wounding of Officer Robert Bence. Officer Griffins killer was convicted and remained behind bars at Folsom Prison for forty years until his release in 1971 at age 85.

Officer Griffin's murderer had been paroled from the Montana State Prison in 1924. He was released after serving 13 years of a 100 year sentence for the murder of Special Deputy Charles B. Streb, of the Silver Bow County Sheriff's Department, Montana, on July 24th, 1911.

Officer Griffin, a twelve-month veteran of the department, was survived by his mother.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour 1 year
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Convicted

Most Recent Reflection

View all 12 Reflections

Thank you for your service and today we take the time to remind you and your family that your sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten by your LE brethren. Rest in peace always.

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

July 24, 2020

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.