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Rank: Police Officer
Panel: 62-E: 9
Department: Baltimore City, Maryland, P.D.
End of Watch: December 30, 1948
Cause: Gunfire
Age: 53
Years of Service: 27

Description: Shot. Officer Arnold and his partner were shot after they approched a suspect choking a woman.


On this day 30 Dec 1948 in Baltimore Police History, we lost our brother Patrolman John W. Arnold to gunfire based on the following:

On December 12, 1948 while investigating a call for shots fired with his partner fellow Officer Norman Mike, the officers, Arnold and Mike approached 41-year-old Edward L. Grear who at the time was involved in some sort of altercation with his girlfriend Miss Mary Alston, and had her in a choke hold. This all took place in the vicinity of Little Pine and Biddle streets. When the Officers called out to Grear he said nothing to them, ignoring their commands to release the woman; Grear waited for the officers to advance on him and then without a word Grear turned and opened fire; shooting Officer Mike in the knee, and Officer Arnold numerous time hitting him in his thigh and abdomen. The two officers were rushed to Maryland General Hospital for treatment while for a brief time Grear would escape. The more seriously wounded of the patrolmen had been given several blood transfusions by his fellow officers an effort to save his life.

Meantime, Grear was arrested later that day in front of Camden station by Sgt. Edward Manning and patrolman George Jackson, and while the arrest was made without firing a single shot, it was not made without incident, as Grear was being approached he did pull his pistol a .45 cal semi-automatic handgun and point it at Sgt. Manning. It is unclear as to whether he didn’t fire, or the gun misfired, but Grear was unable to get a shot off and was taken into custody not long before he would be taken before magistrate Thomas L Fitzpatrick in Northwestern Police Court. Grear a packing house worker was ordered held without bail pending a preliminary hearing.

18 Days later on this day 30 Dec 1948 Officer John W. Arnold would succumb to his injuries. Edward R Grear, would be charged with fatally shooting patrolman John W. Arnold and several more counts of assault, and assault with attempted murder for shooting and injuring Officer Norman Mike along with Officer Arnold’s killing. With those charges came five other counts, including assaults on the two policemen, firearms violations’, discharging, etc. With this Grear was returned to the city jail.

21 March 1949, Edward Grear was convicted in criminal court of first degree murder in the 12 December 1948 shooting of Patrolman Arnold - Judge Herman M. Mosher and E. Paul Mason deferred sentence pending the filing of a motion for a new trial. Speaking for the two Judge Court, Judge Mason said all the elements necessary to prove murder in the 1st degree were present in the case. The shooting was held deliberate; the court pointed out that the identification of the defendant as the person who fired the fatal shots was unquestioned. One of the identifiers was a woman companion of the defendant, (she was being choked while officers approached) the second witness was patrolman Officer Norman Mike, fellow radio-car crewmen of the victim. Judge Mason stated further, the court found that the shooting was deliberate and with intent to kill the officers, and that Grear, knew he was firing at policeman who were attempting to arrest him.

In connection with the defense of intoxication, Judge Mason said the court found “no circumstances of intoxication which tends to reduce the degree of the crime which he committed.” Testimony at the two-day trial disclosed the patrolman Arnold and Mike were investigating a report that someone had been firing a gun earlier in the morning of December 12 (1948) in the vicinity of Argyle Avenue.

William J O’Donnell and James F Price prosecutors concluded the state’s case after they were successful in getting a signed confession from the defendant into evidence.

In the confession, Grear admitted firing shots at police, but said his memory was hazy as to the details.

“I know there wasn’t no fight and I didn’t have words with an officer. But I remember firing some shots in the air and one at police.” He said in the confession, “I remember seeing them there, but I don’t remember any fights with them, but remember firing shots at them.”

T. Barton Harrington, court-appointed defense counsel, disclosed that Grear is a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who came to Baltimore in 1929 after holding jobs as a resource exercise boy, and a circus employee.

The judges were told at the time of his arrest, Grear was employed at a local meatpacking house.

Mr. Harrington said that Grear was 11 years old, when he was shot through the brain by a playmate and the pellet is still lodged in the head of the accused. The defense attorney pointed out that Dr. Manfred S Guttmacher. Court psychiatrists, had reported that persons with a brain injury are “particularly liable to abnormal behavior when intoxicated”

On 16 Dec 1949 Grear would tell the Maryland court of special appeals his confession was forced and that he was beaten by as many as 32 officers at a time, and as little as 4 at a time, they would line up and beat him until they were tired, even saying at one point one of the officer took a swing at him missed and struck another officer in the mouth. These beatings went on for 15 hours knocking Grear unconscious twice.

The state simply put one person on the stand to refute Grear’s charges, a nurse that had seen Grear just two days after his confession; testified Grear didn’t have a single mark on him.

Convicted of the murder of patrolman John W Arnold last December Edward L Grear yesterday 22 June 1949 was sentenced to hang until dead. Judges E. Paul Mason and Herman M. Mosher imposed the penalty on the 43-year-old in criminal court. The same judges tried the man last February for the slaying. Pointing out that Grear had a record of gun toting, and shooting at police. Judge Mason, speaking for the court said; “The maximum sentence was fully justified in the case” and that, “If any murder is to be punished by capital punishment.” This was it, because the full sentence was compulsory. William J O’Donnell assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted case had to drop the assault to murder charge in connection with the shooting of Patrolman Norman Mike pointing out sometimes too many charges confuse the issues.

Arnold, and his companion patrolman Mike. Both of the Northwest District, were shot by Grear while there are investigating a disturbance and little pine Street last December 12 Grear also was indicted for shooting Officer Mike.

A court-appointed defense attorney; T Barton Harrington, declined to say whether he would appeal. The sentencing followed a denial last Monday by the supreme bench on the new trial motion. Which because of the necessary preparation up transcripts of testimony for the consideration by the bench had delayed disposition of the case.

Despite medical reports which showed it Grear to be sane, but stated an old brain injury caused a tendency toward excitement while drinking and under stress. Judge Mason said the court sided on the basis of all the witnesses and victims and was therefore convinced that Grear purposely shot the policemen.

The woman who had been with Grear at the time of the shooting testified she knew it was policemen who had approached them in the small Street, that is practically an alley.

On Dec 26 1950 Gov. Lane announced he had signed a death warrant for Edward Grear, the Baltimore police slayer.

Grear, 44-year-old at the time was to be hanged until dead the following January (26th, 1951) for the murder of patrolman John W Arnold, “After an exhaustive study of the case” the governor said, “I can find no justifiable reason to interfere with the death sentence that has been opposed upon him.”

As his brothers and sisters of the Baltimore Police Department we will not let him be forgotten, His service Honored the City of Baltimore, and the Baltimore Police Department may he rest in peace, and may God bless him.



More details

Name Description
End of Watch December 30, 1948
City, St. Baltimore, Md
Panel Number 62-E: 9
Cause of Death Gunfire
Weapon - Handgun
District Worked Northwestern

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