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Last Updated: 2009-08-20


Officer James M. Walker
End of Watch: Wednesday, April 27, 1870


Officer James M. Walker

Biographical information


Age:

47

Tour of Duty:

Not Available

Badge number:

Not Available


Incident Details


Cause of Death:

Structure collapse

Date of Incident:

Wednesday, April 27, 1870

Weapon Used:

Not Available

Suspect Info:

Not Available


Circumstances


Officer James M. Walker died as the result of injuries he sustained in the Virginia Capitol Disaster.

On April 27th, 1870, a balcony collapsed inside of the Virginia State Capitol, killing 62 people, including 12 law enforcement officers.

Following the Civil War, the United States Army installed a mayor in Richmond. In January 1870 Virginia's governor appointed a new city council, which then appointed a new mayor. However, the previous mayor refused to cede the mayorship and the city operated with two mayors and governments, including two separate police departments.

The balcony collapse occurred during a Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals hearing to determine which of the city's two mayors and police departments was considered legitimate. Because of the interest in the case, hundreds of citizens crowded onto the balcony to view the case. The weight of the spectators caused the structure to give way, killing dozens of elected officials, law enforcement officers, and citizens, and injuring hundreds more.

Following what became known as the Capitol Disaster, the court reconvened and ultimately ruled that the newly appointed mayor was the legitimate mayor.


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