Served: 15½ years
October 24, 1971 to April 16, 1987
On April 16, 1987, at 1:06 a.m., Officer George and another officer were dispatched to 2249 Vine Street to see a complainant about her brother, 33-year-old Melvin Moreland of Saint Louis. Officer George had been to the same address earlier in the shift, thought he knew the nature of the complaint and of the participants, and determined he could handle it without the assistance of the other officer who was near the end of his tour. Officer George did not know that Moreland was a three-time loser in Missouri, including a conviction for armed robbery; that Moreland was currently breaking parole by being outside of Missouri; and that Moreland had snorted cocaine since their last meeting.
When, he arrived at the address, Officer George spoke with Moreland and all agreed that the dispute between him and his sister was such that he should leave. Moreland would go with Officer George to the Greyhound Bus station and purchase a ticket to Dallas, Texas. When they arrived at the curb near the police vehicle, Moreland changed his mind and began yelling. Officer George warned Moreland that if he did not desist, he would be arrested. Moreland continued and as Officer George attempted to place Moreland in handcuffs, a struggle ensued and Officer George broadcast a request for assistance. Numerous officers responded in emergency mode from Districts One, Four, and Five, but too late. Moreland took from Officer George’s holster his Smith & Wesson Model 65 .357 Magnum revolver and shot Officer George. The bullet went into the top of Officer George’s shoulder and down into his chest. He fell to his knees as Moreland chased after and shot at witnesses. Moreland returned to Officer George, picked him up by the collar of his shirt and shot him again in the back of the neck. He then ran down Vine Street, then between two buildings at 2239 Vine Street, and into the into the rear yards.
Police Officers Thomas Lind, Richard Newsom and John Ott were the first on the scene. Officers Charles Beaver and Ralph Unger arrived and administered first aid to Officer George. Sergeant Dale Bley directed officers to surround the wooded area and wait for canine to respond.
Canine Officers Gerald Norton and Steven Fromhold arrived momentarily and determined that they would use Officer Norton’s canine partner, Bandit, to search and Officer Fromhold would cover Officer Norton with a shotgun. Less than ten minutes after he killed Officer George, the canine officers found Moreland, naked and still carrying Officer George’s sidearm, behind the Vine Street residences. The officers ordered him to drop the firearm. Instead, he pointed it at Officer Norton. Bandit, as he was trained to do, lunged at Moreland, specifically at his gun hand. All three men fired their weapons almost as one. The shot fired by Moreland passed through Bandit and into Officer Norton’s leg. Officers Norton’s and Fromhold’s shots found their mark and Moreland fell dead.
Officer Norton radioed Police Communications to have the Department veterinarian meet him at the vet’s office. Officer George was transported to University Hospital and pronounced dead by Dr. Crafton at 1:50 a.m. The vet could not save Bandit and Officer Norton took Bandit to his home and buried him; then went to University Hospital to have the bullet removed from his leg.
Officer George left a wife, Barbara, a son, Jeff, and two daughters, Jennifer and Paige. He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. He was well known in his community of Springfield Township and so admired as a baseball coach that the township purchased land in 1987 at 12089 Mill Road, built ball fields, and named them Clifford George Fields. Jennifer became a Cincinnati Police Officer during July 1998 and Jeff became a U.S. Marine. Paige became a nurse at University Hospital and now lives in South Carolina with her family. Barbara George worked for the Metropolitan Sewer District and eventually headed up their information technology department.
Note: Up to this point in police history, as many as two out of every five officers killed were shot with their own sidearm. Convicts practice in the prisons with each other the art of taking guns away from officers. Several reports had been written by Cincinnati Police Division members recommending a change to semiautomatic pistols and none were acted upon. During January 1988 an FOP Lodge #69 member submitted to the Safety Director, under the name of the lodge president, a one-page summary of advantages of semiautomatic pistols over revolvers. One of the bullet-points was that pistols are more easily disabled by an officer during a struggle for his firearm. Another was that holster makers were making security holsters for pistols making it much more difficult to pull a firearm from an officer’s holster as practiced in the prisons. The Safety Director directed the Police Division to study the issue and report back to him. This was delegated to the Police Academy and then to the Rangemaster at the Target Range. The Rangemaster contacted the FOP member who wrote the summary and asked for a full report. The subsequent ten-page report was submitted under the name of the Police Academy Commander and its recommendations were approved. By the next year, Cincinnati officers were issued 9mm semiautomatic pistols and security holsters. Every other agency in the tri-state have adopted semiautomatic pistols and no officer in the area has since been shot with his own sidearm. Indeed, since the issuance of semiautomatic pistols in 1988, other than officers Pope and Jeter who were shot from behind and Sergeant Palmer who killed his assailant, no officer in the eight-county area has lost his life to gunfire.
If you have further information, artifacts, archives, or images of this officer, please contact the Museum Director at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was revised April 10, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Polcie Historical Society President with anecdotal assistance from several who were involved in the incident. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.