Sergeant Joseph Emmett Lacey

Sergeant Joseph Emmett Lacey

San Francisco Police Department, California

End of Watch Sunday, December 30, 1956

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Joseph Emmett Lacey

Sergeant Lacey was shot and killed when two armed men attempted to rob Eddies' Cocktail Lounge at 502 Ellis Street.

Sergeant Lacey, who was off-duty, was enjoying a holiday drink with a friend when two men entered the tavern and ordered everyone to "turn around with your hands up." He attempted to draw his gun but was shot and killed before he could. The subjects fled without taking any money. Sergeant Lacey died en route to Mission Emergency Hospital.

The shooter's accomplice, 31, was arrested a week later. He identified the shooter who was later added to the FBI's 10 most wanted list. On May 15, 1957, he plead guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life. On July 6, 1959, the shooter was apprehended by FBI agents in Des Moines, Iowa. The man, now 32, fled to Des Moines right after the murder and went to work operating a service station. On November 2, 1959, he was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to five years to life. The verdict was based on the claim that he blacked out from drinking beer and taking drugs at the same time.

Sergeant Lacey was a United States Navy World War II veteran and had served with the San Francisco Police Department for 14 years. He was survived by his sister and four brothers.

His nephew, Sergeant Brian McDonnell, was killed in the line of duty in 1970.


  • Age 40
  • Tour 14 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .357 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life

convicted felon, off duty, robbery in progress

Most Recent Reflection

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Please see other Fallen Officers Brian V. McDonnell as well as Michael McDonald to see that along with Sgt. Lacey, these 3 were directly related. Brian was my Dad's brother and I have all sorts of handwritten genealogy information and photos that link these 3 hard working
Irish policemen. All 3 gave their lives to this city. Please contact me if interested. Bless you all.
[email protected]

Matt McDonnell

April 6, 2023

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