Served: 6¼ Years
July 16, 1952 to October 16, 1958
Tex Pitakos was a veteran of 30 air combat missions during World War II, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross, before he joined the Newport Police Department.
On October 15, 1958, 27-year-old Roosevelt Dawson of Cincinnati purchased a .32 caliber revolver from the Newport Jewelry Company at 108 E. 6th Street. On the next day, October 16, shortly before noon, he tried to return the revolver for the $23 he paid for it. The storeowner, Nathan Shostack, refused. Dawson left, but came back and held up Shostack for $114. A store employee, Norbert Ridiman, walked in on the robbery and Dawson took a shot at him. Ridiman ran to Gatiff Motors and summoned police. Shostack retrieved his own revolver and chased Dawson out of store, firing several shots into the air to attract attention.
Patrolman Tex Pitakos, of 737 Putnam Street, was at the 4th Street firehouse when he received the holdup broadcast. As he drove to 6th and Saratoga Streets in an effort to head off the bandit, Chief Fredericks and Detectives Jones and Ciafardini went up York Street. Patrolman Pitakos picked up Shostack and trailed Dawson to 4th and York Streets where the two police cruisers and a third police car (Lt. Asa Dameron) closed in.
Dawson attempted to hide in the entryway of the Licking Valley Building and Loan Association. From behind cover, Patrolman Pitakos called to Dawson, “throw out your gun and come out.” Instead, Dawson came out firing and shot Patrolman Pitakos in the chest. As he fell, he fired five shots at Dawson. At least one went awry, “stinging” a cabbie, Pearl Fugate, with a spent round two blocks from the scene.
Dawson turned his attention to the other arriving officers, emptying his revolver at them. One of his last shots went through Chief Fredericks’s pants leg without taking effect. Detective Chief Leroy Fredericks and Detectives Pat Ciafardini and Kenneth Jones returned fire, striking Dawson several times, knocking him to the ground. Dawson sat up as if he was reaching for something and they shot him again and he died.
Patrolman Pitakos was transported by life squad to Booth Hospital, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival. The bullet had severed an artery and he died within fifteen minutes. In all, 27 shots were fired, including the one that hit Patrolman Pitakos and twelve that hit Dawson. Coroner Leo Sauter gave a verdict of homicide in the death of the slain officer and a verdict of justifiable homicide in the death of Dawson.
Patrolman Pitakos was survived by his wife, Audrey Pitakos, and three children; Sandy Pitakos (8), Jerry Pitakos (4), and Marilyn Pitakos (11 months). Services were held at the Radel Funeral Home on October 20, 1958 and at St. Paul Episcopal Church. Pallbearers included Detectives Ciafardini and Jones, Lieutenant Clyde Bishop, Patrolmen Charles Ritter and William Yutze, and his brother, Robert Pitakos. Patrolman Pitakos was buried in Evergreen Cemetery. Audrey joined him 48 years later March 31, 2006.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.
© This narrative was revised October 1, 2010 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, mostly with information provided by Pamela Casebolt, Newport Detective Ciafardini’s daughter. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.