Patrolman Joseph Coleman Dawson

Photo of Patrolman Joseph Coleman Dawson
End of Watch: Sat, Jun 1st, 1912
Date of Incident: Sat, Jun 1st, 1912
Cause of Death: Gunfire (Intentional)
Service Time: 15 years
Age: 45


Patrolman Coleman Dawson was shot and killed and another officer was shot and wounded while attempting to arrest a suspected horse thief just across the state line near Rockport in Spencer County, Indiana.

The suspect had brought a horse, stolen in Indiana, to Owensboro and sold it, investing part of the proceeds in two revolvers. Upon his return to Indiana, the Spencer County sheriff called for assistance from officers in Owensboro. Shortly before 9:00 pm, the sheriff heard several shots and soon thereafter found the body of Patrolman Dawson and his wounded partner on a country road nearby.

Despite initially eluding a posse organized by the sheriff, the suspect was captured two weeks later at a rooming house in St. Louis, Missouri, and returned to Indiana. Authorities had learned of the suspect's location from a letter he sent which was intended for his girlfriend. The letter also revealed his real identity, an Indiana parolee with a lengthy criminal record. On November 5, 1912, he escaped along with three other male prisoners from the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville, Indiana.

Patrolman Dawson had served with the Owensboro Police Department for 15 years.

Information obtained from the Officer Down Memorial Page.


Owensboro Police Department
Owensboro Police Department Patch
222 East Ninth Street
Owensboro, Kentucky 42303
(270) 687-8888
Chief Arthur Ealum


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