Tucson Police Officer Memorial
“Gone but never forgotten”
It is not how these officers died that made them heroes. It is how they lived.
Officer Erik Hite - June 2, 2008
On Sunday, June 1, 2008, at 10:22 a.m., officers from the Tucson Police Department engaged in the vehicle pursuit of a suspect who had only minutes earlier fired a rifle into the homes of two neighbors in the County and fled as the first Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived at the location. As the deputy pursued him, Nick Delich opened fire and wounded him. Members of the Tucson Police Department spotted the vehicle a short time later. Officers maintained the pursuit, despite the fact Delich continued firing at pursuing officers. At the intersection of Tanque Verde Road and Tomahawk Trail, the suspect turned a blind corner, stopped and awaited in ambush with his assault rifle for the pursuing officers to arrive. Officer Erik D. Hite was the first officer to come around the corner and the suspect opened fire striking the police vehicle several times with one round striking Officer Hite. Delich continued to flee and wounded another Sheriff’s Deputy before finally surrendering. Officer Hite succumbed to his injury on June 2, 2008. Officer Hite served with the United States Air Force for 21 years before becoming a Tucson Police Officer for four years. Officer Hite is survived by his wife and two children.
Officer Patrick K. Hardesty - May 26, 2003
On Memorial Day 2003, Officer Patrick K. Hardesty responded to a hit-and-run collision in the 800 block of east Ft. Lowell Rd. As a result of his investigation, he responded to a nearby residence with another officer to look for the suspect. Officer Hardesty made contact with a subject later identified as Juan Montenegro-Cruz. As he was questioning Cruz and attempting to ascertain who he was, Cruz fled from Officer Hardesty on foot. Officer Hardesty gave chase and advised via radio that he was in pursuit. The other officer on scene, who was dealing with individuals inside the house, left the residence to assist Officer Hardesty. A few moments later, the assisting officer located Cruz and detained him pending further investigation. Responding officers found Officer Hardesty in the back yard of a nearby residence, he had been shot three times. He was transported to University Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. Officer Hardesty served with the United State Marine Corps for 20 years, served as a Reserve Officer with the Tucson Police Department for 12 years before coming a full-time officer for just one year. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Officer Jeffrey Ross - February 18, 1982
Officer Jeffrey Ross was serving as a member of the Metro Area Narcotics Squad. On the evening of February 18, 1982 he was involved in an investigation at the Ranch House Bar, located at 4950 N. Casa Grande Highway. Officer Ross led a group of officers into the back room of the bar in order to arrest the bar’s manager, Clifford Hamilton. As Officer Ross entered the room, Hamilton fired one round, which struck Officer Ross in the chest. The other officers returned fire, killing Hamilton. Officer Ross was transported to University Hospital where he succumbed to his wound just 17 minutes after his arrival in the Emergency Room. Officer Ross had served the citizens of Tucson for four years and is survived by his wife.
Officer James Smith - October 28, 1980
Officer James Smith was responding Code 3 (lights and siren) to a reported motor vehicle accident on his motorcycle at 8:57 a.m. on October 28, 1980. He was traveling in the reversible middle lane on Speedway near the intersection of Plumer Avenue when the rear of his motorcycle was grazed by a station wagon that was changing lanes. Officer Smith was thrown into the eastbound center lane where he was hit by an eastbound vehicle. Officer Smith was pronounced dead at the scene, making him the fifth officer lost in the line of duty. Officer Smith had served in the United States Air Force prior to joining the Police Department where he was a four year veteran. Officer Smith is survived by his wife and two children.
Officer Barry Headricks - October 28, 1974
October 1974 the Department would lose their fourth officer in the line of duty. Officer Barry Headricks had been assigned to the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad for a little more than a year. On October 28 he had arranged to buy two ounces of heroin from an occupant of a second floor apartment at the Colony Apartments on 8th Street. After making the deal, Officer Headricks left with a small quantity of heroin to confirm its authenticity. Upon confirmation, he returned after five minutes with nine other agents and a Deputy County Attorney to conduct a warrantless search based on probable cause. Officer Headricks led the group and forced open the door. Two suspects ran into the bedroom. Officer Headricks opened the bedroom door and one of the suspects, Rufus Mincey, opened fire striking Officer Headricks. Officer Headricks fell backward, slamming the door shut, and at the same time returning fire, striking both Mincey and the other suspect. Other officers forced open the door and apprehended Mincey, who offered no further resistance. Officer Headricks was transported to University Hospital where he died within one hour of the incident. Officer Headricks had been a police officer for five years and is survived by his parents and sister.
Officer Robert Cummins - September 7, 1936
The Tucson Police Department lost its third officer on September 7, 1936 in an on-duty motorcycle accident. On September 3, 1936 Officer Robert Cummins and a group of TPD motorcycle officers were in Phoenix participating in an escort for an American League convention parade. Officer Cummins was on his way back to Tucson with the other officers when his motorcycle skidded on loose gravel at the intersection of Van Buren and 16th. He suffered serious injuries and was transported to a Phoenix area hospital. He regained consciousness only once in the hospital, recognized his wife and then slipped into a coma. He succumbed to his injuries four days after the accident. The Chief of Police and all members of the Department who were not on duty went to Phoenix to escort the body of Officer Cummins back to Tucson. Officer Cummins had served ten years with the Border Patrol prior to becoming a Tucson Police officer for only nine months before the accident. He was survived by his wife and four children.
Officer William Katzenstein - July 26, 1902
On July 26, 1902 the Tucson Police Department lost its second officer in the line of duty. Between 11:00 pm and midnight there was a fire in a store on South Meyer Avenue, near Broadway Boulevard. Officer William Katzenstein was on patrol nearby when he heard the alarm alerting the citizens of fire. He rushed to the scene, as did hundreds of other people. Officer Katzenstein had to physically prevent people from taking objects from the store and kept them back from the fire. Officer Katzenstein was also the Assistant Fire Chief, so he went to the “Occidental” and removed his gun and left it with the clerk. He then went to the corner of Broadway and Meyer and began opening the fireplug. It was at this time that Theodoro Elias moved up behind Officer Katzenstein. Elias had been stalking the officer for some time because he had arrested his friend some five weeks earlier. Just a few hours before the fire, Elias had wagered with several of his companions that Katzenstein would be dead before midnight. Elias saw that Officer Katzenstein had removed his gun and Elias fired two shots. The first shot hit Officer Katzenstein in the ear and dazed him. He fell to the ground, but got back up. He had no weapon to defend himself and Elias fired again, striking Katzenstein just beneath the right eye. He fell to the ground and died in the arms of a doctor who was only ten feet away when the shots were fired. Elias was pursued from the scene and captured on the steps of the courthouse. Officer Katzenstein was an officer for two years and was survived by his wife and daughter.
Officer William Elliott - July 3, 1892
On July 3, 1892, shortly after midnight, the Tucson Police Department suffered its first line of duty death when Officer William Elliott was stabled to death while attempting to arrest Santos Alvarado, a notorious criminal.Officer Elliot was on foot patrol in the Barrio Libre area of downtown Tucson when he confronted Alvarado on Meyer Avenue, between McCormick and Cushing, directly in front of Mayor Maish’s house. Alvarado had just come from Phoenix and was reportedly a “hard character” who had figured prominently in a number of serious crimes in Sonora. Two witnesses stated that Alvarado yelled, “shoot me if you want to, you can’t arrest me”. Officer Elliot fired a warning shot, but Alvarado charged him and buried a knife into his heart. Officer Elliot was still able to fire a shot and mortally wounded Alvarado. Officer Elliot died in the arms of Mayor Maish, who had come outside when he heard the shots being fired. Officer Elliott was an officer for only several months at the time of the incident and was survived by his wife and two children.