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Patrolman Henry W Sudmeier

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 Patrolman Henry W Sudmeier

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On this day 20 Dec 1934 in Baltimore Police History we lost our Brother Patrolman Henry W Sudmeier to accidental gun fire based on the following:

A little more than 8 years prior to his death Patrolman Henry Sudmeier was walking his beat in the Northern District. He was aware of a suspect robbing the poor boxes of local churches and of the Sacred Heart, so he stayed close to the Sacred Heart, a Catholic Church located at Mount Washington. It was during the night shift on a cool October night 1926, when he heard gunshots coming from inside the church, knowing of the recent poor box thefts, he grabbed his flashlight ( the papers back then called it an electric torch ) and ran in. Like all police he didn’t know what would be waiting for him inside, he didn’t know a suspect by the name Henry “Hank” Connelley, recently released from the Maryland State Penitentiary had entered the church earlier to steal money from the poor box. He didn’t know Captain Frank Gatch had set two plain clothes officers inside the church on a detail to catch “Hank” Connelley; he also didn’t know that when those detail officers, Patrolman Melvin Jackson and Patrolman Joseph Young, spotted Connelley and commanded him to “HALT”; Connelley would refuse and brake for the church entrance. This is what caused Officers Jackson and Young to begin firing on Connelley, and as a chain of events, it would be those gunshots that would cause Connelley to duck down near the pews where Officer Sudmeier was about to enter.

As Sudmeier entered the church he didn’t know lighting his flashlight would cause the young officers on this detail to mistake him for Connelley, and begin firing on him. Once shot Patrolman Sudmeier fell to the floor, Hank Connelley got up and started to run, but was quickly captured by Officers Jackson and Young. It was only as they were leaving the church that they would discover Officer Sudmeier was shot; he was lying there on the floor bleeding from a wound in the right side of his abdomen, (An extremely painful injury), but he didn’t say a word, not a single moan. So while one policeman handcuffed Hank Connelley, the other summoned an ambulance to hurry Patrolman Sudmeier to the hospital. Once there it was found that he has suffered a severe wound, and an operation was performed immediately. Surgeons were not confident regarding his chance for recovery.

Nonetheless Patrolman Sudmeier was as tough as they get, he had faith, and was optimistic. He also had one thing every good man has, and that was a good woman by his side. From his bed at Mercy Hospital he was recovering in leaps, and bounds, above what any of the doctors had expected. He would eventually be moved from Mercy Hospital to Mercy Villa, on Bellona Avenue. His condition was improving beyond expectations of the medical staff; he was able to get in and out of bed, to a wheelchair, (with assistance). He was paralyzed, so he knew he would never walk again. There is a certain amount of psychological grief, depression and other things to deal with when you learn of things like this; but at the time of his injury he was only about a year on the force, and a newlywed of just two months. His wife, Mrs. Lentha Sudmeier, gave him hope; she made him push forward, and without a single word made him work harder (I know the feeling, and the benefits of a good wife. In this type condition in front of the woman of your dreams, you don’t want to fail, so you give it everything you have.) Mrs. Ientha, came to the hospital to be with her husband every day, her love for him became his strength… and it seemed to be working – On one of his biggest nights of his life in the police force, came in June 1930 (It had been 4 years since being shot) and he was a guest of honor in the hospital auditorium where a party, or policemen’s ball was held. It was attended by 1800 patrolman of the day, the Police Commissioner “Charles D. Gaither” (he was the first PC in the modern police department, a department with just one commissioner instead of the board of commissioner that previously held the position) alongside the Commissioner was, Chief Inspector, George D Heary, Inspector Stephen G. Nelson and every captain on the force. Patrolman Henry W Sudmeier was about as proud as anyone could be that night. All that for him, all of it in front of his wife, and family it had to make them proud of him, it was a great day.

After that he was in and out of bed; he was able to be rolled out to the garden/park for some sun and fresh air. But unfortunately, his injuries were too many, and caused more weakness, with weakness came a decreased immune system, and before long infections were too much. He was taking several small steps forward, and then huge leaps back. This went on for four more years, looking good, and then looking bad, until an infection would set in that was so strong Officer Sudmeier would be forced to go back to Mercy Hospital. And like his first trip to Mercy eight year earlier; immediately upon his arrival surgeons would rush him in to surgery. They tried everything, still he steadily grew worse, and before long there was nothing they could do. Then on 19 Dec 1934 at 7:30 O’clock his death would come. Physicians said it was due to congestion of the lungs, brought on by his decreased vitality that was indirectly attributable to the gun-shot wound from eight years earlier. Patrolman Sudmeier was 36 years old at the time of his death.

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
 
NameDescription
End of Watch 20 December, 1934
City, St. Mount Washington
Panel Number 37-E: 4
Cause of Death Gunfire
District Worked Northern

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