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Officer Charles Emerson "Bogie" Bogardus
(May 13, 1918 – April 6, 1959)

In his prime, LAPD Officer Charles Emerson Bogardus was an imposing figure. He was tough, fearless, 6 feet tall, 230-plus pounds, built like a wrestler, and strong as a bull. His former partner told the story of Bogardus breaking up a fight between two men by lifting both of them up off the ground, one in each hand. When the men stopped fighting each other and turned their attention to Bogardus, he tossed them both across the room like ragdolls.

Bogardus was born May 13, 1918, the son of Peter Emerson Bogardus, a railroad worker, and Mary Beatrice Cox Bogardus, a few months after his parents moved from Kansas to Los Angeles. Bogardus was named after his paternal grandfather, who died two years before he was born.

In January 1919, when Bogardus was 8 months old, his father died at the age of 25. Bogardus and his 19-year-old widowed mother moved back to Mary's homestate of Missouri, where she found work as a cashier in a department store.

Bogardus and his mother eventually returned to Los Angeles where, in January 1922, Mary married Frank Miller Jr., a manager at the department store where she worked, and the family moved into a house on South Cimarron Street.

In 1940, Bogardus, then 21, married 16-year-old Colorado native Georgia Frances Woods, 16, in Orange County, California. The young couple moved into the house next door to Bogardus’ mother and step-father, and their daughter, Bonnie, was born later that year.

In 1942, Bogardus, who was working at the Sears Roebuck & Co. department store at 9th Street (now Olympic Boulevard) and Boyle Avenue in Boyle Heights, registered for military service. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the South Pacific on the U.S.S. Rocky Mount, the command flagship for a task force in the South Pacific.

After he returned from the war, Bogardus and his wife divorced. At about the same time, he joined the LAPD. Bogardus later married Mildred Katherine Greathouse Edens, who had two children from her previous marriage – Eleanor Edens, born in 1933, and John “Buddy” Edens, born in 1936.

In the 1950s, Bogardus was diagnosed with cancer, and prognosis wasn’t good. The once-beefy police officer who had tossed suspects across the room with ease lost an estimated 100 pounds. Though weakened and in constant pain, Bogardus continued to report to work, and insisted on doing his share. While his co-workers enjoyed their dinners, Bogardus ate a small packet of crackers and drank a small glass of orange juice. He told his fellow officers that he just wasn’t hungry.

Bogardus knew he was dying. He also knew, and reportedly mentioned to his fellow officers, that his wife, daughter and step-children would receive more in insurance benefits if he was killed in the line of duty. Perhaps Bogardus remembered the struggles of his mother, widowed at 19 with an 8-month-child, and he wanted to do whatever he could to make sure that his family was taken care of after he was gone.

On Sunday, April 5, 1959, just after 11 p.m., Bogardus and his partner, Officer Norman A. Comeau, received a report of an armed robbery in progress at a supermarket at Washington Boulevard and South New England Street, a few blocks north of the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10).

Two armed robbers forced their way into the store just after the 11 p.m. closing, pistol-whipped the store manager, and took 50 cents from a store clerk. They then forced the two employees to a time-lock safe at the back of the store, where $4,500 in cash and checks had just been deposited, and tried to force them to open it. A passerby noticed the robbery in progress and called police.

When the two robbers saw Bogardus and Comeau enter the store, they ran up a flight of stairs at the rear of the store, and into an office.

Bogardus, 40, and Comeau, 25, took cover inside the store, and called for assistance. Suddenly, Bogardus jumped up, shouted “Cover me,” and ran up the darkened stairs. Comeau yelled for Bogardus to stop and wait for back-up, but Bogardus continued up the stairs to the office and kicked open the door.

There was a scuffle inside the office, and Bogardus came out and ran back down the stairs, without his service revolver. One of the robbers followed Bogardus out of the office and shot him in the head as he ran down the stairs. More than 15 police cars carrying additional officers arrived at the supermarket, and both robbers were killed in a shoot-out. No other officers were injured.

During the gun battle, with bullets flying around them, two ambulance attendants entered the supermarket and brought Bogardus out. He was taken to Central Receiving Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, shortly after midnight, with his distraught wife by his bedside.

The obvious question is, did Officer Bogardus intentionally ignore department policies and procedures, and the pleas of his partner, and run up the stairs at the back of the supermarket alone, knowing that he would be killed, but also knowing that his death in the line of duty would help provide for his family? What happened inside the office? Was his gun taken from him, or did he surrender it voluntarily?

We’ll never know the answers to those questions.

Military funeral services were held for Officer Bogardus, conducted by the American Legion Police Post 381. Survivors included his widow, his mother and step-father, his daughter, and two step-children. Officer Bogardus was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery.

In 1960, Bogardus was posthumously awarded the LAPD's Medal of Valor, the department's highest award for bravery and heroism above and beyond the call of duty.

Bogardus’ story inspired a 1973 episode of the TV series “Police Story,” starring Claude Akins, and a 1990 film titled, “Short Time,” starring Dabney Coleman.

Officer Bogardus’ sign is located at the northwest corner of Washington Boulevard and South New England Street. (Although Bogardus was shot on Sept. 5, he died early the next morning, so the date on his sign is incorrect.)

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