Burglary suspect murders Seattle Police Officer Judson P. Davis on February 23, 1911.

  • By Dave Wilma
  • Posted 5/23/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3808
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On February 23, 1911, burglary suspect John Ford murders Officer Judson P. Davis (1878-1911) on Capitol Hill. Ford will die two days later of wounds received from Davis's partner.

Officer Davis and his partner and roommate Officer Herbert C. Smith were working on foot in plain clothes on Denny Way near Boylston Avenue. They were looking for suspects who had committed armed robberies in the neighborhood. They spotted John Ford and Axel Nist and approached them. Ford and Nist opened fire on the officers with pistols. Davis and Smith were both hit, as was Ford. Nist fled on foot and Smith gave chase. Davis and Ford fell to the ground and continued to fire at each other in a "grim, gutter level duel" (Brasfield, 21). Davis died at the scene.

Nist was captured at the bottom of a hole at Denny Way and Harvard Avenue. Ford died in the hospital. Burglary tools, skeleton keys, and two handguns were recovered from the two suspects.

Officer Davis was a graduate of Syracuse University, a former school teacher, and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.


Michael D. Brasfield, "An Examination of the Historical and Biographical Material Pertaining to the Violent Deaths Involving Seattle Police Officers (1881-1980)" (Undergraduate thesis, University of Washington Library, 1980), 21.

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