Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Officer William Whitfield died from a gunshot wound he suffered over five months earlier while chasing a suspicious subject.
As he entered an alley west of College Avenue on foot patrol in plainclothes, he noticed a poorly-dressed man. After identifying himself, the man ran from Officer Whitfield who pursued him.
A short distance away, the man suddenly turned and fired several shots from a revolver, striking Officer Whitfield once in the abdomen. He was able to return fire before he stumbled back to the street where he collapsed.
A passer-by took him to Ward's Sanitarium and Nurses' Training School where he lingered for over five months before he died from his injuries.
The suspect was never apprehended and the case remains unsolved.
Officer Whitfield was survived by his sister.
Although initially being buried in an unmarked grave on November 27, 1922, Officer Whitfield was given full honors during a gravesite dedication of a headstone on November 30, 1988, after members of the department contributed to its purchase.
• Officer Whitfield is the second known African-American law enforcement line of duty death in Indiana.
The responsibilities of the Indianapolis Police Department (1854–2006) are now under the jurisdiction of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.