Police Officer Clifford William George | Cincinnati Police Division

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Badge:     P339
Age:        40
Served:    15½ years
October 24, 1971 to April 16, 1987

 

OFFICER

Cliff was born August 12, 1946 in Cincinnati, one of two children born to Edward A. and Charlotte E. (Alford) George of Walnut Hills.  He attended Central Adult High School and graduated during August 1964.  Before and after military service, from 1964 to 1971, he built car bodies at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Norwood.

From 1964 to 1966, he built car bodies at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Norwood.

The United States Army drafted Cliff on January 6, 1966.  He took basic training in Fort Hood and Military Police Training.  Before he shipped overseas, he married Barbara Johnson on August 20, 1966.   In Vietnam, he participated in combat, convoy escort, post and town patrol, POW security, and ammo supply post duties.  Specialist E-4 George was honorably discharged October 12, 1967 with a Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Awards, and an Army Commendation Medal.

George returned to the General Motors plant.  He also attended University of Cincinnati Evening School from 1969 to 1970, majoring in Industrial Management.

Police Officer Clifford W. George”s badge

Cliff joined the Cincinnati Police Division as a Police Recruit on October 24, 1971.  He was promoted to Patrolman on March 12, 1972, issued Badge 339, and assigned to District 4 (7017 Vine Street).  Five years later, he transferred to the Regional Enforcement of Narcotics Unit (RENU).  During February 1983 he completed a Federal Bureau of Investigation Instructor Development Course.

Covert assignments are dangerous, stressful, and often damaging to personnel and personal relationships.  Best practices and policies dictate that officers should not be left in covert assignments more than several years.  For that reason, after a long, successful run, the Division transferred Officer George to District 5 (1012 Ludlow Avenue) on January 18, 1987.

By then he had grown his family of five and was the epitome of an involved father.  He was also well known in his community of Springfield Township and admired as a baseball coach.

 

MURDERER

Born in 1954, Melvin Moreland started his criminal career early and spent a portion of his youth in the Missouri State Boys’ Reformatory.  While Officer George was beginning his career in law enforcement, Moreland, was a juvenile committing adult crimes.

On March 23, 1971, the 17-year-old was disarmed of his shotgun and arrested when police interrupted him and two other teens holding up the Wishbone Fried Chicken restaurant in St. Louis.  With his record, he was tried as an adult, convicted of armed robbery and auto theft, and sentenced to only four years in prison and served only three until April 15, 1974.

Moreland was arrested again after shooting at his estranged wife with a .45 Automatic Colt Pistol.  If he went back to prison, it was not for long.

A year later, on July 1, 1975, an off-duty St. Louis Police Officer witnessed Moreland strike a lady on the head, take from her a jewelry store night deposit, and run down the street.  The officer chased him and caught him with the bag containing $3,470 (over $17,000 in 2021 dollars).  While on bond in that case, he was additionally charged with another auto theft.  For the robbery, he was sentenced to six years in prison.  We assume he served time concurrent with the Robbery sentence for the auto theft because he was out by 1983.

During 1983, he was arrested for threatening a drug store security guard with a knife.  He was convicted of possessing an unlawful weapon and resisting arrest and sentenced to five years for each charge.  After only 2¼ years, he was paroled on November 28, 1985.

Less than 1½ years later, he was violating the terms of that parole by visiting his sister at 2249 Vine Street in Cincinnati.  Over a period of one month, he had caused trouble at least twice to the extent that his father was trying to get him to come back to St. Louis.

 

INCIDENT

On April 15, 1987, Police Officer James Timperman, assigned to Police Communications Section, took a call from Police District 5 at 10:27 p.m. regarding a call from a complainant reporting that a man was “actin’ crazy” at 2249 Vine Street.  Communications dispatched Officers Roger Davis on Car 5Z2 and Cliff George on Car 502.  Officer Brian Johnson on Car 5Z12 also responded.  When the officers arrived, Anita Gibbs advised the officers that her cousin, Moreland, had been acting strange for the past two days and she suspected him of being on drugs.  They asked Police Communications personnel on Channel 4 to query Moreland for any wants or warrants and were told there were none.  After discussing the issues with Ms. Gibbs, Moreland packed his things and agreed to leave.  The officers left the scene at 10:55 p.m.

Less than two hours later, at 12:46 a.m. on April 16, 1987, Police Officer Carpenter, assigned to the 3rd Relief Desk at District 4, called Police Communications, Operator Dispatcher Sherry Petock, and advised that the ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ problem at 2249 Vine Street had heated up again.  She dispatched Officer George and Specialist Ron Pruitt on Car 503.    Officer George arrived within four minutes.  Two minutes after that, thinking that he could handle the issue by himself, he disregarded Pruitt.  Officer George, Moreland, and his relatives had all agreed that his sister would drive him in her black Ford Granada to the Greyhound Bus station where she would buy a one-way ticket and put him on a bus to Dallas, Texas.

Officer George escorted the seemingly willing Moreland to the car at which time Moreland changed his mind and began yelling.  Officer George warned Moreland that if he continued in his disorderly conduct, he would be arrested.  Moreland continued and as Officer George attempted to place him in handcuffs a struggle ensued.  At 1:02 a.m., Officer George broadcast on Channel 2, “502, officer needs assistance!”.  Within seconds, Communications broadcast on all channels, “Attention all cars, all departments.  Officer needs assistance at 2249 Vine…”  In the next seventeen minutes, a police officer, police canine, and the suspect would be killed, and another officer shot.

Moreland reached with his left hand and took from Officer George’s right-side holster his Smith & Wesson Model 65 .357 Magnum revolver; a maneuver taught and practiced in prison yards.  With the weapon up-side-down in Moreland’s hand and with his little finger pulling the trigger he shot Officer George in the top of his shoulder; the bullet tracing down into his body.  Officer George fell to his knees and slumped forward.  Moreland then turned and shot twice at his relatives.  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 rear yards.

The address was in District Five and officers in Districts Three and Five were the first to hear Officer George’s request for assistance on Channel Two.  However, Vine Street is the boundary between District Four and District Five and 2249 Vine Street is only 2000 feet north of District One.  So when the dispatcher repeated the assistance run on all channels, due to the geography and layout of the city streets, District Four cars on Channel 1 and District One cars on Channel 3 were the first to arrive; some in less than one minute.

Police Specialist Richard Newsom and Police Officer David Salzman on Car 401 arrived from the northeast within the first minute, but Moreland had already escaped into the wooded area.  People on the scene were yelling to the officers indicating where he went and that he had a gun.  They saw Officer George’s car parked at the curb, but did not see Officer George, so they assumed he too was in the woods.  The pair split up with Salzman going to and around the north end of the townhouses and Newsom to the south and around.  While they were in the rear looking for Officer George, they heard that he had been found in the front of the address.

Car 1Z12, District One Police Officer Vincent L. Demasi, and Car 115, a District One scout car (equipped for an emergency medical technician), with EMT-trained Police Officer Ralph Unger and Probationary Police Officer Sandra Louallen, had arrived from the south almost simultaneously with Car 401.   Demasi saw an officer crouched down in a peculiar position by the front tire of the driver’s side of the black Ford Grenada.  He assumed that shots had been fired from the apartments and that the officer was taking cover behind the tire of the car.  He drew his weapon, knelt down beside the officer, put his left hand on the officer’s back, and said, “What do we have?”  When the officer did not respond, he pulled him up by his right shoulder and the officer fell lifelessly over onto his side.  It was then that he saw Officer George’s bleeding face.

Less than two minutes after Officer George called for assistance, Officer Demasi broadcast, “I got an officer down up here.  Gimme a Rescue Unit right away!”  He pulled Officer George by the utility belt and dragged him to cover; assuming the threat was from 2249 Vine.  He tried repeatedly to stir Officer George to consciousness.  He pulled off his ballistic vest looking for the source of Officer George’s bleeding.  He then started CPR.

Officers Unger and Louallen had walked passed the Grenada and were on the other side of it when they realized that Officer Demasi had found and was dragging Officer George.  By then, Canine Officer Fromhold, Car 1K8, had arrived and warned all officers, “Take cover!  We don’t know if shots were fired!”  Within the next few seconds, Unger helped Demasi get Officer George behind cover; Louallen helped with CPR; and Unger retrieved oxygen and other medical equipment from the scout car.  Car 103, Police Officers Charles Beaver and Phillip Padgett, arrived immediately thereafter.  Beaver immediately went to help Demasi, Unger, and Louallen.  Officer Demasi covered them; protecting them from an unknown foe – gunman or sniper – who’s location could only be intelligently guessed at.

Demasi, seeing someone across the street, braved the unknown to talk to the potential witness.  He found that Officer George had been shot by Moreland who had run behind the townhouses and into the woods.  Then, 4½ minutes after the assistance run, Officer Demasi put out the description he had, including the facts that the suspect had the “officer’s .357 Magnum” and was wearing no shirt nor shoes.

Seconds after the first cars arrived, Cars 460 and 462, Sergeant John E. Ott and Specialist Thomas A. Lind, had arrived from the northeast.  They saw two or three marked police vehicles but saw no officers – four were concealed on the other side of the scout car and two were at either end of the townhouses.  So they went directly to 2249 Vine Street; from which they heard the “officer down” broadcast.  They started interviewing the witnesses who told them that the suspect had Officer George’s revolver and that he ran south on Vine Street.

Car 503 called for a Canine.  Officer Fromhold was already on the scene and, at 5½ minutes, Officer Demasi, based on his discussion with the witness, pointed out to Fromhold where he should begin his track.  Fromhold determined the situation called for two handlers and one dog, so he called for 1K3, Officer Gerald Norton, to respond.

Officers Beaver, Unger, and Louallen stayed with Officer George for the eight minutes it took for a Cincinnati Fire Rescue Unit to respond; but there was no sign of life.  When the rescue unit arrived, the personnel parked north of the scene, reasonably refusing to come into the kill zone.  Officers Demasi, Unger, and Beaver carried Officer George up the hill to the awaiting rescue unit.

Specialist Newsom and Officer Demasi went to 2249 Vine, found Sergeant Ott – who was at this point the incident commander – and reported their findings.

Officer Norton arrived with his partner, Bandit, at the entry point with Officer Fromhold.  By now, dozens of officers from Districts 1, 3, 4, and 5 had arrived and formed an airtight seal around the woods and townhouses.  Moreland was trapped.  Officer Fromhold retrieved a shotgun from a District Four officer and, at 14½ minutes, Fromhold, Norton, and Bandit entered the black woods in search of an armed cop killer.

As soon as they rounded the rear corner across from 2236 Vine Street, Moreland started kicking at the rear door of 2249 trying to get back inside.  Specialist Lind and Officer Demasi notified Communications.  Specialists Lind and Newsom covered the locked steel door and Officer Demasi ran up the stairs in the hopes of getting a tactical advantage above the suspect.  By the time he got to the landing, he heard shouting and gunfire.

Bandit was pulling hard and clearly on a good track when, from several yards away, Officer Norton shined his flashlight on Moreland who had stripped himself naked and was standing at the rear door of 2255 Vine Street.  He was still holding Officer George’s revolver and both Norton and Fromhold screamed at him to drop the weapon.  Sixteen minutes after shooting Officer George, Moreland raised the revolver to kill again.

In the next two or three seconds, Officer Norton, Canine Bandit, and Moreland were all shot.  Bandit, as he was trained, attacked Moreland when he raised the revolver.  Moreland fired twice at the dog and at Officer Norton.  At the same time, Norton dropped Bandit’s leash and his flashlight, drew his own revolver, and fired six shots at Moreland; and Officer Fromhold fired his shotgun four times at Moreland.  One of Moreland’s shots went through Bandit and into Norton’s leg.  Moreland was hit multiple times from Norton’s .357 revolver and Fromhold’s shotgun.  Officers unlocked the door at 2249 Vine, ran up to the scene of the shooting, and saw Moreland breath his last breath.

Officer Norton picked up Bandit and carried him to his cruiser.  Officer Fromhold saw that Norton was shot and called for a scout car.  Unger was there, saw the wound, and when he tried to help, Norton said, “no,” and drove off.  Norton radioed Police Communications to have the Department veterinarian meet him at the vet’s office.

At this time, the rescue unit arrived at University Hospital.  Doctors were unable to revive Officer George.  Police Chief Lawrence E. Whalen and Police Clergyman, Reverend Mark Pruden, responded from their respective homes and were with Officer George when Dr. Crafton pronounced him dead at 1:50 a.m.

Nor could the vet revive Bandit.  Officer Norton took Bandit to his home and buried him.  Then he went to University Hospital to have the bullet removed from his leg.

 

FUNERAL

Officer George was survived by his wife, Barbara (Johnson) George; children, Jennifer Lynn George (15), Paige Alexandra George (12), and Jeffrey Michael George (8); parents; stepparents, Catherine and Murray Jennes; and siblings, Janice Shepherd, Patricia Thompson, Linda Comier, Steven Jennes, and George Jennes.

Visitation was held at Paul R. Young Funeral Home in Mt. Healthy on Monday, April 20, 1987 and hundreds of police officers filed by his remains.  On Tuesday, April 21, 1987, more than 1500 police officers in more than 800 police cars escorted Officer George to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Springfield Township and to Spring Grove Cemetery.  While Taps was being blown from a hillside, Assistant Police Chiefs Jeffrey L. Butler, Sr. and Joseph J. Staft folded an American flag and handed it to Chief Whalen, who presented it to Mrs. George.

 

EPILOGUE

Officer George was so admired as a baseball coach that Springfield 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 United States 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.

Change in Sidearms

From the 1880s to 1980s, as many as two out of five officers killed in the line of duty in the United States were shot with their own sidearm.  Convicts practiced in the prisons with each other the art of taking revolvers away from officers.  During January 1988, Police Officer Vincent Demasi was elected President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #69.  With Officer George’s death fresh in his mind, he immediately opened a dialogue with Cincinnati Safety Director David Rager regarding the propriety of the continued use of revolvers.  The Safety Director indicated that he would be interested in pursuing it if officially requested.  President Demasi and District One Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer wrote the request over President Demasi’s signature.

Six months later, Firearms Training Unit Rangemaster Sergeant Robert Weidinger, who had also been a key supervisor in the investigation of the Officer George shooting, solicited Lieutenant Kramer for a staff-study.  Lieutenant Kramer drafted a ten-page report which was submitted in the name of the Police Academy Commander (and is currently archived at the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum).

Most of the recommendations were adopted and since then, Cincinnati officers – and now every other law enforcement officer in Greater Cincinnati – are issued semiautomatic pistols and security holsters.  In the 33 years since, only four firearms have ended the lives of Greater Cincinnati area law enforcement officers and no officer has been killed, or even shot, with their own weapon.

 

If you know of further 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 revised February 1, 2019 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Vice President, with anecdotal assistance from Mt. Healthy Police Chief Vincent L. Demasi; Cincinnati Police Sergeant Thomas A Lind (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Webmaster; and Cincinnati Police Officer Sandra Vickers (Retired), and major assistance from Cincinnati Police Sergeant Joseph Briede in lending us the Homicide Unit file on this incident.  All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.