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Officer Clyde A. May
(April 29, 1879 Feb. 28, 1907)


Officer Clyde A. May, a member of the LAPD for less than a year, was the first member of the department to be killed in the line of duty. May was shot when he stopped a burglary suspect at Adams and San Pedro streets, south of downtown, and died of his injuries about three weeks later.

May was born April 29, 1879, in Olive Township, in western Michigan, to Frank and Clara Weston May. Frank May was a farmer, and Clyde May was the middle of three boys, between his older brother, Ora, born in 1877, and his younger brother, Charles, born in 1880.

After Frank May died on October 1891, the family moved to Lansing, in central Michigan. Clyde May enlisted during the Spanish-American War in 1898, serving for four years with Company F of the 31st Michigan Infantry, with much of his time spent in the Philippines.

Following the war, May settled in Los Angeles, where his mother and brothers joined him. After working for a short time as a conductor and motorman for the Los Angeles Railway Co., May, then 27 years old, joined the LAPD in 1906, and was assigned to the University Division, which covered the southern part of the city. Ora May also joined the police department, and Charles May worked as a butcher and grocery store manager.

On Jan. 2, 1907, May married Dolly L. Shepardson. At about the same time, in response to a string of robberies and home burglaries in the southern part of the city, LAPD Chief Edward Kern issued an order to all officers to stop and question anyone seen out on the streets after midnight, "without apparent legitimate business."

Just after midnight on Feb. 3, 1907 -- one month after May's wedding -- a resident of East Jefferson Boulevard called police and said there were two men on his porch, attempting to break in. At about 12:45 a.m., May and his partner, Officer John M. Hoover, noticed two men fitting the description of the would-be burglars at 665 E. Adams Boulevard, just west of San Pedro Street, in front of the Third Presbyterian Church.

One of the men immediately ran off, and May and Hoover approached the other man. As the man turned to walk away, May put his hand on the man's shoulder and asked where he was going. The man turned, pointed a revolver at May, and fired once, hitting the officer in the left side of his chest. The man then turned and fired at Hoover, but missed. Hoover returned fire, and killed the man.

May was taken to Clara Barton Hospital, where doctors were unable to find the bullet. May recovered enough to be sent home for a short time, but he returned to the hospital, where he died on Feb. 28, 1907.

May's killer, who came to Los Angeles from Kansas City, Mo., had been arrested and jailed for beating his girlfriend, and was released in September 1906. He and his accomplice were also suspected of committing the robberies and burglaries that prompted Chief Kern's order. On his body, police found 20 rounds of ammunition, and a skeleton key "capable of picking any ordinary lock," according to newspaper reports.

An estimated 200 police officers, plus veterans of the Spanish-American War, paraded several miles from the funeral home through downtown Los Angeles before entering funeral cars to escort May's body to his final resting place at Evergreen Cemetery. One of May's pallbearers was LAPD Capt. Walter Auble, who became the third member of the LAPD to be killed in the line of duty, 18 months later.

May's sign is located on the north side of Adams Boulevard, a few hundred feet west of San Pedro Street.



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