END OF WATCH: September 5, 1979
Mayfield Village Police Department
Mayfield Village is not a very large suburban area. It is so small, you can on the front steps of the Mayfield United Methodist Church and look a half mile in either direction, and see the three areas touched by the death of Patrolman David R. Wiley. To the south is the intersection of SOM Center Road and Ridgebury Boulevard.
On Wednesday, September 5, 1979, shortly after noon, the Mayfield Heights police department received a report of a male exposing himself at the Golden Gate Shopping Center on Mayfield Road. The ensuing pursuit of the suspect through the side streets of Mayfield Heights brought response from several other suburban area departments.
When the pursuit took a turn eastward onto Ridgebury toward SOM Center Road, a roadblock was set-up with units from Mayfield Heights and Mayfield Village, including Patrolman Wiley. As the pursuit neared the roadblock, reports of gunfire were received. The shots could be heard by officers at the roadblock. Officers took positions of cover near their vehicles. As the suspect’s vehicle entered the roadblock area, several shots were fired by officers on the scene. An errant round, fired from the .38 caliber revolver of a fellow officer, glanced off the rear bumper of the suspect’s car and struck Officer Wiley. The bullet passed through his upper arm and entered his chest, striking his heart.
Patrolman Wiley collapsed to the street without firing a shot. The eighteen-year-old suspect was apprehended shortly thereafter and charged with involuntary manslaughter.
In a bizarre twist of fate, Wiley, a former Marine Corps Sergeant, was not supposed to be working that day. He was scheduled to attend school but backed out as his wife, Bobbie, was to conclude a deal on their first home that day. Wiley had not only changed his school day, but also switched shifts and lunch time with another officer so it would be easier for him and his wife to complete the transaction. In a September 7, 1979, editorial, Cleveland Press Columnist, Bob August, called Patrolman Wiley “one of the innocents.”
On September 8, 1979, police officers and firefighters from Mayfield Village, as well as from countless other agencies, gathered with family and friends of Wiley to say farewell. So many came, that many had to stand and listen to services over loudspeakers outside the Mayfield United Methodist Church.
From the steps of the church one could see the Mayfield Village police station, a half mile north you could see the gates of Whitehaven Cemetery. The cemetery was so close to the church that the head of the final procession reached the grave sight before the last cars left the church.
Under a spread of shade trees lies a flat grave marker. It simply reads, “David R. Wiley, Beloved Husband, 1951-1979,” and is marked by a replica of his badge. As one exits the cemetery, one sees a large brown and gold sign, DAVID R. WILEY MEMORIAL PARK.
Patrolman Wiley was survived by his wife Roberta and his parents, Buck and Roberta.
David Wiley’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C. panel 46, east wall, line 15.
By: Ptl. Robert Heiss, South Euclid Police Dept.