END OF WATCH: February 15, 1926
Cleveland Police Department
John F. Saxton was a Cleveland Patrolman since 1919 and was assigned to the Fourth Precinct in 1923. The story that follows explains the injury that later contributed to his death in 1926.
On March 7, 1923, Miss Pauline Benson and a male friend were on their way to the Union Passenger Station when they were followed and stopped by a gang who stole their car. In the car, Miss Benson had a trunk case of clothing which the gang discovered and broke open. The thieves stole some of her clothes then discarded the trunk on the yard of her rooming house.
When she found her trunk, Miss Benson was so angry, she called the police and told them of a gang of criminals in a Prospect Avenue rooming house. She told police the gang was responsible for stealing 11,000.00 worth of wine in Sandusky which was later transported to the east side of town.
Saxton and his partner, Patrolman Frank Bauer, assigned in plain clothes, were called to search the rooming house for the suspects. Uniformed Patrolman Albert Jaenrich, assisted.
Upon their arrival, a witness informed patrolmen the suspects they were looking for had gone to the Ansonia Restaurant located on Prospect Avenue. When the patrolmen entered the restaurant, they began by searching four men and three women seated at a table. Finding nothing, they moved to the next table where Joseph Clayton was seated. Clayton became alarmed, jumped to his feet, pulling a .25 caliber automatic pistol from his pocket.
Saxton grabbed Clayton’s arm and a struggle ensued and at point-blank, Clayton shot Saxton in the groin. When he shot, Saxton shouted, “I know who tipped you off. I’ll get her and I’ll get you!” Patrolmen Bauer and Jeanrich overpowered Clayton and disarmed him. When they searched him, they also found a .38 caliber revolver concealed in his belt as well as cartridges in his pockets.
Saxton was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital where surgeons informed him he had a very good chance of recovery.
When police interrogated Clayton, he said he shot Saxton because he thought he was being arrested for a burglary he committed in New York. He said a woman turned informant against him. Clayton also told police he did not intend to shoot the officer but scare him and keep the other patrolmen off him until he could escape. Clayton advised he did a 3 year stint in New York’s Sing Sing prison and did not want to go back.
Saxton never fully recovered from his injury and on February 15, 1926, he passed away. Officials believed the wounds he received during the incident with Joseph Clayton, were a contributing factor in his death.
Clayton was charged with shooting with intent to kill and carrying a concealed weapon.
John Saxton was survived by his wife Alma; sons Jerome, Kenneth, and John, Jr.; sisters Mrs. J.O. Sayers and Mrs. Henry A. Fenderbosch; and a brother Leo.
John F. Saxton’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C. panel 43, west wall, line 16.
By Recruit Zoeann Z. Morell, Cleveland Police Academy