Harold Humphrey Pearce


Officer Pearce was shot and killed during an escape attempt by a teenage boy he had just arrested. Officer Pearce and his partner had arrested three boys and two girls after a short car chase and transported them back to the police department on the first floor of the Buchanan County Courthouse. They put the three boys in an internal room with Officer Pearce’s partner watching them, and the two girls in an outer room. One of the boys jumped from a window when he was permitted to use the bathroom. The boy then retrieved a shotgun from the backseat of their vehicle, which had been transported to the police department.

The suspect re-entered the department and pointed the shotgun at Officer Pearce. He then demanded that Officer Pearce remove his pistol with his left hand. As Officer Pearce complied the boy shot him once in the chest with the shotgun. After freeing the two girls the boy fled the scene but was later arrested.

The suspect was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life. As of 2013 he remains in Fort Madison Penitentiary, and is Iowa’s longest serving inmate.

Officer Pearce had been with the agency for two years and was survived by his wife, two daughters, mother, and brother.

Independence Police Department

End of Watch: Jan. 5, 1956

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