Patrolman Thomas J. Barlow


Sgt Benjamin Graham

Patrolman Thomas J. Barlow 

On this date in Baltimore Police History 31 Dec 1937, we lost our brother, Patrolman Thomas J. Barlow to an automobile accident based on the following:

On 31 December 1937 at approximately 2:00a.m., while investigating a call of a woman screaming for help, as she was having trouble with her drunken boyfriend. Officer Barlow and his partner Officer James M. Leverton were handling the call when they were both struck by John E. Kelly, of the 3300 block of Hamilton Avenue (Kelly was the son of a retired Central District Officer) Officer Barlow was killed instantly, and Officer Leverton was seriously injured. This took place at the intersection of Belair Rd. and Pelham Ave. It would be eight blocks, to nearly one mile from the scene of the accident before Kelly would be stopped by another radio car operated by Patrolmen, John M. Dippel and John W. Campbell. Once stopped Kelley was arrested, and charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Driving Under the Influence, Hit and Run personal injury, Hit and Run Property Damage and numerous other vehicular, and Criminal Offenses. Kelly would be held in city jail without bail from the time of his arrest until the 6th of January 1938, because Dr. F. L. C. Helm, “Acting Automobile Coroner”, declined to set bail after his arrest. It would be a week later before Kelly would receive a hearing via a Habeas Corpus Hearing when we would hear a defense attorney make a statement that lets us know today, things back then were just as bad and seemingly unjust as they are today, and that Defense Attorneys were 100% just as heartless. The Defense Attorneys of 1938/39 was just as much a disgrace with a lack of couth back then, as they are today… being represented at the time by an attorneys named John E. Magers and Bernard H. Herzfeld. Attorney Magers said one of the most disgusting and disturbing things I may have ever heard come from the mouth of someone that is supposed to represent integrity and equality in our court system when he said, “If he were not a policeman involved in this case, the defendant would have been admitted to bail,” then he went on to say, “Defendants in cases more serious than this one have been released on bail.” SMH… I mean seriously, WHAT COULD BE MORE SERIOUS THAN "KILLING" A POLICE OFFICER, Taking the LIFE of someone that's sole job is to uphold PEACE, maintain ORDER & FAIRNESS in society. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some serious crimes out there... Child Abuse, Kiddie Porn, Rape, Murder etc. But this Attorney John Magers, said it like the life of a Police Officer, the life of our Brother, the life of Officer Thomas J. Barlow was no big deal, like he was disposable, a police officer to a city, a husband to Mrs. Irene M. Barlow and Daddy to his four children, disposable to a drunk driver, to a defense attorney, and sadly to a court system, that would set bail on a man's freedom, that valued another man life at just $3000. And then that is just what Judge Robert F. Stanton did as he set Kelly’s Bail at $3000.00 – roughly $51,000.00 in today’s value. I’m not sure what crawled up Stanton’s court dress that day, he was normally a pretty good judge, and pro police, especially in cases where police were injured or killed, and in this case we have both. Yet he did what he did, and Kelly was bailed out by his wife, Mrs. Leopoldina “Leo” Kelly, who lived with her husband in the 3300 block of Hamilton Avenue.

On 10 February 1938 Kelly would have his day in court, being convicted of manslaughter charges by Judge J. Abner Saylor in the criminal court in connection with our brother; Patrolman Thomas J. Barlow's death; Based on testimony of, the arresting officers, and a cab driver that saw the entire incident. The sentencing was suspended on the request of Kelly’s attorney. John E. Majors and Bernard Herzfeld. Pending a motion for a new trial. Once again I am sitting here shaking my head... did they have something on this Judge Stanton, I mean seriously what in the world was going on. But this was not the end… while I couldn’t find anything else on this case, I did find the following: In a Sun Paper Article dated - 8 April 1939… it was about several suits involving vehicular manslaughter that had added up to more than $125,000.00 ( in today's money that would be $2,125,000.00 ) and one of those actions involved Mrs. Irene M. Barlow, the widowed mother of four who was at one time married to Patrolman Thomas J. Barlow. ( I copied just the part of the article for this story. ) "Mrs. Barlow seeks $50,000 ($850,000.00) - Mrs. Irene M. Barlow widow of patrolman Thomas J. Barlow, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident last December, filed an action in Superior Court seeking $50,000 from John E. Kelly who was serving one year in the House of Corrections for manslaughter, in connection with the death of Officer T. J. Barlow. The suit was entered jointly by Mrs. Barlow and her three juvenile children." (Apparently on of their children had reached the age of 18 - or we have a newspaper error) OK… so from this brief article we learn - John E. Kelly received a one year sentence in the House of corrections for killing a police officer, a manslaughter, taking the life of our brother Patrolman Thomas J Barlow. Not as much time as one should get for killing anyone, much less killing a police officer… but it's better than a suspended sentence. And while we don’t know if Mrs. Barlow and her three children won their civil suit, we can only hope they did, as $50,000.00 in 1939/1940 would be worth: $850,000.00 in today’s currency. would show Tommy Barlow's life was more important than taking away a year of Kelly's life.

Thomas J Barlow, was a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 1919. He was husband to Mrs. Irene M. Barlow and was the father of four children.

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Further info on this incident: At approximately 2:17 a.m., Officer Barlow was struck and killed by an automobile at the intersection of Belair Road and Pelham Avenue. Officer Barlow was investigating a call for a “woman screaming in the street.” Officer Barlow was hurrying to the aid of a woman who was having trouble with her drunken boyfriend. One patrolman was killed instantly and another· injured early yesterday when they were struck by a hit-run driver on the Belair road at Pelham avenue. The officer who was killed was Thomas J. Barlow, a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 1919 and the father of four children. Patrolman James M. Leverton, his radio-car teammate. was injured. Almost a mile from the scene of the accident, the crew of another radio car arrested John E. Kelly, of the 3300 block Hamilton avenue, and placed four charges against him. Both officers were standing beside their machine when struck, after answering a complaint.

John E Kelly was found guilty of Manslaughter in the Fatal Accident that took the life of Officer Thomas J Barlow - John E. Kelly yesterday was found guilty of manslaughter by Judge J. Abner Sayler in the Criminal Court in connection with the death of Patrolman Thomas J. Barlow of the Northeastern district last December. Sentence was suspended on the request of Mr. Kelly's Attorneys. John E. Majors and Bernard Herzfeld. Pending a motion for a new trial. Kelly, son of a retired Central district policeman. Pleaded not guilty in the hit-run accident in which Barlow and Patrolman James Leverton. Crew of a Northeastern district radio car were struck while standing by their parked machine at Belair road and Pelham Avenue. Killed Almost Instantly I Barlow, who lived at Rossville was Killed almost instantly. Leverton suffered an injured hip cuts and bruises Testimony adduced by William H. Maynard Deputy State's Attorney, and Charles H. Knapp Jr. Assistant State's Attorney was that Kelly's machine hit the policemen and went on eight blocks before Kelly was apprehended.  

Chased By Other Officers  

Kelly's car was halted according to the testimony by Patrolman John M Dipple, and John W. Campbell of the Northeastern District, who had witnessed the accident and chased the machine. Kelly said he did not know of the accident until hailed by police. Francis Einwick of 3300 Block Cliftmount Avenue a taxicab driver testified that he had parked his machine near the scene of the accident: that he saw Kelly drive at approximately fifty five miles per hour toward the police officer, He said he called to the Officer to, “watch out!” just before the were hit. Kelly lives in the 3300 Block Hamilton Avenue

As his brothers and sisters of the Baltimore Police Department we will not let him be forgotten, His service Honored the City of Baltimore, and the Baltimore Police Department may he rest in peace, and may God bless him.

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More Details

End of Watch      December 31, 1937
City, St. City, St.
Panel Number 52-E: 13
Cause of Death       Auto Accident
District Worked Northeastern



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