January 25, 2011 in City

Jim Kershner’s This day in history » On the Web: spokesman.com/topics/local-history

By The Spokesman-Review

From our archives, 100 years ago

“I would rather hang by the end of a rope in a penitentiary than be a coward and flee from justice.”

With these impassioned words, former Spokane patrolman Lee Downey arrived back in Spokane and demanded to appear before the grand jury.

He had been indicted for shooting and seriously wounding a 20-year-old in a saloon altercation.

“If they have anything against me, I am here to face the music,” said Downey. “I am here to stay until they get rid of me and am ready to go to jail if I have done anything wrong.”

The summer before, Downey had been in the Orpheum saloon, in plainclothes, when he got into an altercation with Joe Curry. Downey apparently attempted to apprehend the admittedly drunken Curry, who tried to flee. Downey claimed he meant only to shoot in the air to frighten the young man, but Downey stumbled and the bullet accidentally hit Curry.

Downey resigned following a hearing over whether he violated departmental rules by drawing a firearm while not in imminent danger.

“I feel that in my heart I have done nothing for which I am ashamed,” said Downey.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1959: American Airlines began Boeing 707 jet flights between New York and Los Angeles.

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