Served: 2¾ years
March 4, 1916 to December 14, 1918
During the afternoon and evening hours of December 14, 1918, Theodore Pohlman (35) of 2250 Iva Street was drinking at an O’Bryonville saloon on Madison Road and causing problems. He was ejected and went home. After eating supper, he left to return to the bar, taking with him a double barrel shotgun.
Patrolman Ell, of 1725 Vine Street, was assigned as a Mounted Patrolman in the East Walnut Hills District. He had been sick and unable to work for the last week and a half, but he came back to work even as temperatures in Cincinnati dipped into the single digits. By evening there were more than ten inches of snow on the ground. He encountered Pohlman on O’Bryon Street near Madison Road.
Patrolman Ell stopped Pohlman. The course of the conversation is not known, but he seemingly convinced Pohlman to return home. However, Pohlman suddenly turned and shot Patrolman Ell with both barrels of buckshot. His upper body riddled with buckshot and his heart, lungs, and aorta punctured, Patrolman Ell returned fire without effect.
He was taken to General Hospital where he died a few hours later at 10:30 p.m., due to shock, hemorrhage, and suffocation.
Patrolman Ell left his wife of 2½ years, Lena Ell, and mother, Wilhelmina Ell, who had lost her husband less than three months prior. Being the youngest of eight children, he had numerous nieces and nephews. He was buried in Vine Street Cemetery.
Lieutenant John B. Muhle, Sergeant Stewart, and Patrolman Louis Seidholtz arrested Pohlman at his home. At the time, he advised the officers that he did not know that Patrolman Ell was a policeman. The shotgun he used was found under the bed in his bedroom. Detective Chief Love questioned Pohlman and during the session, Pohlman said, “I have examined my conscience and I do not know that I shot the officer. I shot at someone, but I do not know at whom.” The officers charged him with Murder.
According to the newspaper account, this was the ninth fatal shooting of a policeman in five years. Others included James O’Neil, Edward Knaul, Samuel J. Robins, Detective Albert Wegener, George LePoris, William Boers, Henry Hanakas, and William Deiters. Also, four policemen, Michael Maloney, Detective John Wank, Detective Leonard Hayes, and Stonewall Jackson were all shot, but survived.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Museum Director at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was researched and revised March 2, 2012 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.