State honors fallen officers

Officer shot in 1929 by horse thief awarded medal of honor.

Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson awarded law enforcement officers with Washington state’s highest law enforcement award: The Medal of Honor. The medal is given to officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, who were seriously injured in the line of duty or who have displayed exceptionally meritorious conduct.

The ceremony took place at the Washington State Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony in Olympia.

“Every one of the individuals honored today has helped make Washington a safer state,” said Inslee. “It’s a heroic act to put on that uniform. Wearing that uniform is a choice to put the safety of others above one’s own safety, and we owe these men and women – and their families – our deepest gratitude.”

The following officers were recognized with a Posthumous Award for Service:

Officer William B. Spencer, Whitman County Sheriff’s Office: On April 1, 1892, Deputy William Spencer of the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office was shot while attempting to arrest a horse thief. Spencer and another deputy had located the suspect at Fort Spokane. As Spencer called out to the suspect to place him under arrest, the suspect suddenly spun around and opened fire.  Spencer was wounded, but both deputies opened fire on the suspect and killed him. Two days after the shooting, and after Spencer’s arm was amputated, he died from complications of his gunshot wounds on April 3, 1892.

Officer Edwin J. Wilson, Seattle Police Department: On Sept. 24, 1919, Seattle Police Officer Edwin J. Wilson was returning to headquarters after handling a call. While en route his motorcycle struck an object in the street. The motorcycle went out of control, striking a telephone pole and ejecting Wilson, who was fatally injured.

Officer Otto G. Brown, Bellingham Police Department: On March 5, 1929, Officer Otto G. Brown was on his way to work riding a police motorcycle with a sidecar.  Brown was struck from behind by a taxi cab. The motorcycle was thrown into a nearby telephone pole. Brown was severely injured and confined to the hospital for several weeks.  He recovered somewhat but died on January 8, 1930.

Officer Ellsworth Cordes, Seattle Police Department:  On Dec. 31, 1932, Seattle Police Officer Ellsworth W. Cordes was riding his police motorcycle when he collided with a street car. Cordes died as a result of his injuries.

Officer John T. Clancy, Jr., Seattle Police Department:  On Dec. 24, 1949, Seattle Police Officer John T. Clancy, Jr. was operating his police motorcycle when he was struck by a vehicle operated by a drunk driver. Clancy died as a result of his injuries.

Officer David P. Richards, Seattle Police Department:  Richards died Sept. 1, 1967, when he was thrown from his motorcycle after it went out of control due to a mechanical failure and struck a guard rail. Richards died as a result of his injuries.

Officer Jerry L. Wyant, Seattle Police Department:  On Oct. 26, 1976, Seattle Police Officer Jerry L. Wyant was riding his police motorcycle on routine patrol when he was struck by a delivery truck which failed to yield the right of way. Wyant died as a result of his injuries.

Trooper Sean M. O’Connell Jr., Washington State Patrol: On May 31, 2013, Washington State Patrol Trooper Sean M. O’Connell, Jr. was providing traffic control for a detour route when his motorcycle collided with a box van. O’Connell was ejected from his motorcycle and fatally injured.