Local news

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 21, 2013

From our archives, 100 years ago

A scene played out at the Spokane police headquarters that “would have been ideal for the moving picture camera,” according to The Spokesman-Review.

Maybe if it were a Keystone Kops Komedy.

Harry A. Richards, Spokane’s “only society policeman,” was in the captain’s office when he saw a prisoner jump out of a lavatory window and try to escape.

(No, I don’t know what a society policeman is, either, but Richards was the son of the Washington Water Power chairman and son-in-law of mining magnate Patsy Clark. Apparently, Richards was a plainclothes officer who “wears the star of a special officer.”) Richards raced from the office, revolver drawn, in pursuit of prisoner Charles Freeman. Other patrolmen followed, shouting, “Stop him.” Just then, the driver of the police “greyhound” (police auto) was coming along the street and heard the hue and cry. He jumped out of the car and tackled – the wrong guy.

He pounced on special officer Richards and began choking him. During the struggle, Richard’s star was exposed, at which point the officer immediately released him.

The other officers caught Freeman a few blocks away. Freeman cried copiously and blamed his escape attempt on the fact that he was drunk.

Society policeman Richards went to the emergency hospital to be treated for neck scratches.

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