On This Date (June 29) 1933-Officer Sam Griffin Lanford
June 28, 2021 06:27PM
On this date (June 29) 1933 a wife lost a husband, a daughter lost a father, three brothers and two sisters lost a brother and Dallas lost a Police Officer.

Officer Sam Griffin Lanford, age 36 was shot and killed as he pursued a prowler on foot after the black male suspect was observed by Officer Lanford and his partner Officer T.J. Johnson while on routine patrol in the 2400 block Prairie Avenue.

As Officer Lanford entered the rear yard of the house located at 2414 Prairie Avenue, he observed the suspect running towards the rear fence at the rear of a detached garage. As Officer Lanford turned the corner of the garage the suspect fired five times striking Officer Lanford four times.

Officer Lanford’s partner had continued in their police vehicle to the the next street east, North Fitzhugh Avenue believing the suspect would emerge between the houses. Apparently the suspect instead ran north in the east alley of Prairie Avenue, jumping the fence of the nearby Oak Grove Golf Course.

Officer Johnson returned to the location he last saw Officer Lanford, found several people in the back yard and then observed Officer Lanford laying on the ground. Officer Lanford was found to be deceased as a result of the multiple gunshot wounds.

Shortly afterwards, Officer G.A. Bates who had responded to the offense observed a black male running from the area of the golf course. He gave foot pursuit and fired at the suspect who refused to stop. It was later learned the suspect, R.T. Bennett, was shot in the right hand, but was able to escape the pursuit.

A massive manhunt began for the murder suspect which included a reward. This along with information gained during the investigation resulted in the identity of the suspect and soon thereafter his arrest.

As the suspect was questioned regarding the murder of Officer Lanford, he freely admitted murdering Leona Buchanan in December 1932 while in the process of burglarizing her residence at 3225 San Jacinto Street. He then admitted shooting homeowner George A. Coffey also during a burglary which occurred at 3503 Granada Avenue, University Park in April 1932. He then admitted he burglarized a home at 5800 Belmont Avenue, also in April 1932.

It was then found the suspect had recently been released from the Texas State Prison after a conviction for Burglary.

During a trial on July 14, 1932, fifteen (15) days after the murder of Officer Lanford, the suspect plead guilty to the murder of Leona Buchanan. The trial for the murder of Officer Lanford was to be conducted later. His punishment was assessed by a jury however and after a short deliberation he was assessed the death penalty.

R.T. Bennett, age 25 was executed on August 17, 1932, forty nine (49) days after the murder of Officer Lanford. He was never actually tried for the murder of Officer Lanford as he had been executed.

Officer Sam Griffin Lanford is interred at the Lakeside Cemetery, Love County (near Marietta), Oklahoma.
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