Around 9:30pm on April 15, 1915, Chief of Police Patrick A. Butler, aged 59, left his home at 1027 Pleasant Street, Weymouth, MA, to walk to work at the old police station, which was on the same street. As he did so, he apparently saw a vehicle approaching with its headlights off.
Chief Butler allegedly stepped into the middle of the street and signaled to the offending driver to stop. The driver, who was intoxicated, struck him with such force that it threw the Chief some distance. The car then ran over him.
Chief Butler was carried home by two of his children, where he later died of a fractured skull and broken back.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Chief Butler was the first law enforcement officer in the country to have been killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver.
The motorist was arrested and charged with manslaughter. The manslaughter charge was subsequently dropped but the motorist was found guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence and was sentenced to one year in a house of correction.
Butler was born in Ireland and moved to Weymouth at the age of ten.
He worked as a blacksmith and a shoemaker before joining the Weymouth Police Department. He served with the department for 35 years and was survived by his wife, eleven children, and three brothers — two of whom later became chief of the agency and the third an officer. Two of his nephews also went on to serve with the agency, one of whom also became a chief.
According to an April 16, 1915, article that ran in the Quincy Daily Ledger, a forerunner of The Patriot Ledger, Butler was assigned to North Weymouth in his early career as a police officer and “participated in many of the troubles which the police experienced with the rough element” in the neighborhood. He was later assigned to the department’s liquor squad and was described as a “rugged type of a gentleman of the old school.”
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