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Det. Clay Noble Hunt
(Sept. 9, 1912 Feb. 22, 1955)


Police officers often say there's no such thing as a "routine call." From a traffic stop, to a domestic dispute, to an armed robbery, no two incidents are exactly the same.

At about 4 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 21, 1955, Det. Clay Hunt, 42, and Det. Sgt. Robert Young, 37, were sent from the LAPD's Hollywood Station on a death investigation. William De La Torre, 38, an artist and cartoonist, had suffered a fatal heart attack. De La Torre was the author of the comic strip "Pedrito" ("Little Pedro"), which was syndicated in newspapers across the country beginning in 1948. He was also a cartoonist for the Los Angeles Mirror-News, and his work appeared in the New Yorker magazine.

Clay Noble Hunt was born Sept. 9, 1912, in Los Angeles, the son of Charles Thomas and Hattie May Wheaton Hunt. By 1920, Hunt's parents were divorced, and he was living with his mother, who was working as a machine operator in a knitting mill. Hunt completed three years of high school before dropping out and taking a job as an automobile mechanic, to help with the family finances.

Just before his 25th birthday, on Sept. 1, 1937, Hunt joined the LAPD. On April 7, 1940, Hunt, then 27, married 24-year-old Rita Eileen Halloran, and the couple moved into a house at 4443 Bakman Ave., in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles. In 1951, Hunt was promoted to detective and assigned to the Hollywood Station.

In November 1953, Hunt and his partner, Det. William McRoberts, were sent to the Padre Hotel at 1961 N. Cahuenga Blvd., following a call from a woman who said her estranged husband was at the hotel and was threatening her. When Hunt and McRoberts reached the second-floor corridor, the man appeared in the hallway and fired several shots at the officers, but they all missed. The officers returned fire, hitting the man in the neck and arms. The gunman told police he wasn't planning to harm his wife, but wanted to shoot himself in front of her.

Fifteen months later, while responding to the death investigation call, Hunt and Young were traveling on Santa Monica Boulevard crossing Gower Street their patrol car was hit by a car heading south on Gower. Hunt and Young were both taken to the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital, where Hunt died of his injuries the next day. Young was initially listed in serious condition, but he recovered from his injuries.

The driver of the other car was a 23-year-old dance-band trumpet player and swimming instructor. He received minor injuries in the crash, and was treated at the Hollywood Receiving Hospital. In addition to the charges related to the crash, the driver was also charged with possession of narcotics after police found a marijuana cigarette butt under the driver's seat of his car.

At trial, the driver claimed that he could not stop because his brakes failed, but evidence from the scene showed that his car left nearly 70 feet of skid marks. Superior Court Judge Lewis Drucker, who heard the case without a jury, dismissed the narcotics charges, but found the driver guilty of manslaughter due to "gross negligence." The driver was sentenced to four months in the County Jail.

Hunt was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale. His widow, Rita, died on Sept. 7, 1984, at the age of 69. She's buried at the Forest Lawn property in Hollywood Hills.

There are eight stars on the sidewalk at the entrance to the LAPD's Hollywood Station, similar to the stars on the more-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. These eight stars, however, are the Hollywood Police Memorial Walk, which was decided in 1993, to honor the officers from the station who have been killed in the line of duty. One of the stars honors Det. Clay Hunt.

Hunt's memorial sign is located on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and North Gower Street.



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