Served: 8 years
September 9, 1913 to November 13, 1920: Cincinnati Police Department
February 1935 to May 20, 1935: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office
Walter Leslie Francis was born in Adams County, Ohio. As a young adult, he moved to Cincinnati and joined the Cincinnati Police Department to much fanfare as the tallest officer and the one with the longest reach, greatest stride, and largest chest. He served with the department more than seven years and resigned.
By 1935, he decided to go back into law enforcement and set his sights on running for Sheriff of Hamilton County. His friend, George A. Lutz, Sr., was elected as Sheriff and appointed Walter Francis as one of his new deputies. At 6’9½”, he was still the tallest law enforcement officer in Hamilton County.
On May 20, 1935, shortly after 3 a.m., Deputies Francis and Conrad Bradford and Lieutenant William Wiggeringloh investigated an assault and robbery of a couple in a Lockland subdivision park at 81 Independence Avenue (now Matthews Drive). The male, John Donaldson, was tied to a tree with wire and the female, Jessie Jamison, was assaulted by two males armed with a revolver and shotgun. The suspects left with $16.18.
Deputies Francis and Bradford immediately arrested one suspect, Lee Jones (40), and took him to the Lockland Police Headquarters. They returned to the scene to search for the second suspect, Amos Cartwright (30). At about 4:15 a.m., Deputy Francis went to the trunk of his patrol vehicle to retrieve a shotgun. As he pulled the shotgun by the barrel and it discharged into his abdomen. He was taken to Cincinnati’s General Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival.
Deputy Francis was survived by eight siblings and numerous nieces and nephews. One nephew was Cincinnati Patrolman Albert Estele Francis (who was killed in an off-duty incident almost exactly ten years later). Deputy Francis was laid out at Dunkmann & Dalbert Funeral Home at Glenway and Rosemont Avenues. On May 24, 1935, his funeral was held at the Island Creek Methodist Church in his hometown of Manchester, Ohio. He is buried in the Manchester (also known as the Independent Order of Oddfellows) Cemetery. So many attended the services that some were asked to leave in fear of structural damage.
Captain Charles Coddington, Patrol Commander, found the hammer of the shotgun broken and surmised that when Deputy Francis pulled the shotgun, the hammer caught on some tools in the trunk, broke, and struck the primer on a loaded shotshell. His death was ruled accidental.
If you know of any information, archives, artifacts, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Memorial.org.
© This narrative was researched and revised December 7, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President with assistance from Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink III (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Historian. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum