Patrolman Joseph J. Heffernan

Photo of Patrolman Joseph J. Heffernan
End of Watch: Sun, Aug 14th, 1898
Date of Incident: Fri, Aug 12th, 1898
Cause of Death: Gunfire (Intentional)
Service Time: 1 year
Age: 40


His wife of sixteen years, Gertrude, and four children.


Two days before his death in the early morning hours Officer Heffernan assisted Corporal Louis Whitman who had detained two suspected burglars at 21st & Rowan Streets in the Portland neighborhood. During questioning of the two men one of them produced a handgun and shot at Corporal Whitman. However, before the shooter could take accurate aim Officer Heffernan knocked him to the ground causing the shot to miss Whitman. Immediately after this the second burglar produced a pistol and began shooting at Officer Heffernan as Heffernan fired back with his pistol. This man being wounded in the arm fled. The man on the ground still holding his pistol was told by Officer Heffernan that he was under arrest. The man then shot Heffernan in the side penetrating his liver and lung. Officer Heffernan was rushed to Saint Joseph's Infirmary where he lingered for two days and died as a result of his wounds.

Before joining the police force Officer Heffernan served for years with the Louisville Fire Department where he was promoted to the rank of Captain. His brother is Police Lt. Edward Heffernan.

His murderer, Howard Clark, was shot and killed by police in Owensboro, Kentucky on October 8, 1898.


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The Louisville Division of Police has been disbanded and absorbed by the Louisville Metro Police Department.


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