Editor’s note: Part Two of a four-part series
In honor of National Police Week (May 15-21), we’re sharing the stories of the 53 police officers and deputies who have given their lives serving Orange County.
This installment covers the years 1959 through 1974. During that time, five officers were killed in traffic-related accidents. Five were killed by gunfire.
As I was preparing this column, I was shocked to see in the killings of two of these officers the suspects served only seven years each. Thankfully, laws have changed to make the killing of a police officer a more serious offense.
All of the pictures are from the Orange County Peace Officer Memorial Site.
On Nov. 12, 1959, Officer Winney was pursuing a speeding motorist on Santa Ana Canyon Road in Orange County when his motorcycle crashed into a truck that made a left turn in front of him. The driver, according to investigators, did not see the motorcycle and the officer did not have time to stop. Winney, 27, was a member of the CHP for three years and had served two years in the Anaheim office.
On March 16, 1960, Officer Dale was killed when his police motorcycle went out of control as he rounded a curve on a highway in Orange County. One of Officer Dale’s sons later served as a police officer for the city of Fullerton.
The following are notes from the Officer Down Memorial Page left by Officer Dales sons. One of his sons, Wayne Dale, followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a motor officer for the Fullerton Police Department.
As your youngest child, who was too young to know you or have any memories of you, it’s difficult to know what reflection I should leave on this site dedicated to you and all of the other peace officers who have died in the line of duty. First of all, I thank you for creating me along with the most wonderful mother anyone could have. I grieve for the shortness of your life and pray that God has welcomed you into His kingdom.
July 20, 2011
I’ve followed in your footsteps…nearly 29 years now with Fullerton PD…15 of those years on motors. I’m recovering from a serious collision, but I hope to ride again before I retire. Dad, I’ve never forgotten your sacrifice, and I hope I’ve made you proud of me.
Senior Officer Wayne E. Dale
Fullerton, CA Police Department
March 25, 2006
On Sept. 29, 1962, Officer Marshall was on patrol at night when a car veered into his lane and struck him head on. His injuries were initially believed to a severely fractured leg but he died later in the morning due to undetected internal injuries. The 19-year-old driver who struck him was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Officer Marshall had been with the agency for four years and was survived by his expectant wife, 10-year-old son, and 9-year-old daughter.
On June 5, 1969 Officer Sasscer was shot and killed when he was ambushed by a member of the radical Black Panther Party. Sasscer observed two suspects hiding in the shadows on a residential street and was shot twice in the abdomen as he approached them. Both suspects were arrested later that night.
The shooter was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to five years to life on June 17, 1970. He was paroled in 1977.
Black Panther Party members would be responsible for the killings of 15 police officers across the country and the wounding of many more.
The shooting was witnessed by 10-year-old Louie Martinez, who would grow up to become a Santa Ana Police Officer and later work with the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
On May 30, 1970, Reserve Officer Andrew Reese was struck and killed by a vehicle while directing traffic at the intersection of Brookhurst Street and Trask Avenue during the annual Strawberry Festival. The car that struck him was attempting to pass slower-moving traffic.
On Sept. 21, 1972, Buena Park Det. Darrel “Bud” Cate was conducting an investigation in Anaheim. Det. Cate accompanied a male subject into a house. Once inside, the suspect armed himself with a revolver and shot Det. Cate two times.
Det. Cate was survived by his wife and five children.
After an intense, six-day manhunt, the suspect was arrested. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to three 10-year jail terms for the murder and other crimes. He ended up being released after serving only nine years.
Det. Cate was the first Buena Park Police officer to die in the line of duty.
On Jan. 4, 1973, Det. Schneider and Det. Sgt. Carl Wilson responded to Midway City in an attempt to arrest a suspect in two murders. When they went to the front door the suspect opened fire with an automatic rifle, killing both officers. The suspect was wearing a flak vest and attempting to flee when he was confronted by Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Romero. Deputy Andy Romero was able to shoot and wound the suspect.
The suspect would receive four life sentences.
Dep. Romero would later become Chief of Police in Orange.
On Dec. 6, 1972 Officer Waldron Karp was shot while assisting the Orange County Sheriff’s Department with a call involving a barricaded man with a rifle. Officer Karp and a deputy were shot by the suspect. Officer Karp was able to return fire and wound the suspect. He succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 7, 1973.
The suspect served seven years for the second-degree murder conviction.
On Nov. 16, 1974, Officer Leslie Prince was struck by a drunk driver while directing traffic at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach. He succumbed to his injuries on Dec. 1, 1974.
Officer Prince responded to the scene due to a power failure that had caused the lights to malfunction. A drunk driver entered the intersection against the orders of another officer. The driver then struck Officer Prince.
Officer Prince had been with the Huntington Beach Police Department for four years. He had a wife and infant child at the time.
To read Part 1 click here
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.