On April 27, 1856, a cold and stormy night, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., Lieutenant Parker and Patrolman Lawrence Hazen, while walking along Front Street near Pike Street, were drawn to the sounds of a woman crying outside the Lake Erie House on Front Street between Ludlow and Lawrence (which would now be west of the north end of the Central Bridge). Patrolmen William Harvey and William White, also on patrol, also heard the screams and responded. They found Mrs. Harrington, scantily clad and out in the weather, because her husband, Henry (AKA Harry) Harrington, refused her entry into their home. When the officers arrived, she invited them into the home and when she stepped in, Harrington shoved her away roughly.
The officers knew Harrington well, having arrested him numerous times and never without a fight. Lieutenant Parker said, “Henry, you must not abuse your wife or we will arrest you.” Harrington asked, “Might I have a word?” Lieutenant Parker said, “Yes.” Harrington jumped behind the counter, grabbed a pistol, and shot Lieutenant Parker. Surprised, Lieutenant Parker turned away and the ball entered his back left shoulder and lodged in the joint. Simultaneously, a dog living at the residence attacked him, biting him severely. While Lieutenant Parker exclaimed, “I am shot!”, Harrington was taunting him, “It’s none of your God-damned business!”.
Patrolmen Harvey and White were able to pry the pistol out of Harrington’s hand and, with great difficulty, get him to the Hammond Street Station.
Hazen took Lieutenant Parker to his residence on Baum Street where he was attended to by Doctors Dandridge and Foster. The seriousness of the wound to Lieutenant Parker’s shoulder was immediately apparent. The doctors determined that, at best, he would not have use of his arm and that he was in danger of succumbing to the wound. He died eight days later at 12:30 a.m. on the morning of May 4, 1856. Immediately thereafter, a vigilante mob attempted to take Harrington from the jail, but they were unsuccessful.
Lieutenant Parker was survived by his wife, Lucy Parker (33), and two daughters, Julia Parker and Mary E. Parker. His funeral was held from his home on Baum Street on May 6, 1856. Being the highest-ranking Cincinnati officer to be killed to that point, the entire police force and nearly all municipal and county officials attended. Lieutenant Parker was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
Harrington was charged with Murder of the First Degree on May 5, 1865. His trial commenced on May 27, 1865 and he was found guilty and sentenced to the Ohio Penitentiary. On July 30, 1856, he attempted to scale the wall, but was recaptured.
Less than six years later, during January 1862, the Supreme Court of Ohio ordered a new trial for Harrington on the ground of some legal informality. He was again convicted, this time of Murder in the 2nd Degree, and again sentenced to life.
A few years later, Harrington’s friends tried to convince Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes to grant him clemency, but Hayes refused advising there were no grounds for Executive Clemency. But, during August 1872, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “it remained for Governor Noyes, the felon’s liberator, to set him free to prey on the society he once outraged.” Not surprisingly, Harrington was not reformed and was later arrested for Robbery. Nothing else is known about him.
If you known of any information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© This narrative was further researched and revised on March 30, 2016 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 Museum.