Today in 1879, Charleston Policeman John Harlow, 33, died as a result of being shot and beaten.
Around midnight, Policeman Harlow approached a group of five men who were drunken and disorderly near King Street and Calhoun Street. He advised the men to remain quiet or face being arrested. The group taunted the policeman, and Policeman Harlow attempted to arrest one of the men. The group converged on Policeman Harlow and one of the men struck him in the head with a bottle. Once Policeman Harlow fell the group began beating him.
Even though wounded, Policeman Harlow staggered to the corner to rap on the light post to call for assistance. When he realized no one was coming, Policeman Harlow began walking down King Street where he found other policemen who tracked down the group and arrested them without incident.
As the officers were walking the prisoners to the jail, the prisoner with Harlow began to struggle. During the struggle, two shots were fired from Harlow’s pistol. One of the bullets struck Harlow in the stomach.
John Harlow is buried at Saint Lawrence Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina. He was survived by his mother and two sisters.
John Harlow‘s name has been engraved at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Memorial at the Statehouse in Columbia and the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, located on panel “10, W -15”. A plaque bearing his name is displayed at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame in Columbia.
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