END OF WATCH: June 6, 1939
Cleveland Police Department
Clarence Smith was born to Antonette Vohnautek of Vienna, Austria and Joseph Smith of Cleveland on November 3, 1903. He was raised in Cleveland, married Laura Palus, and was appointed to the Police Department in November of 1930. He died in the line of duty on June 6 1939, as a result of injuries he received while performing his duties during a drug/liquor raid.
On June 2, 1939, Officer Smith and his partner, Officer Charles Kolesar, were staging a raid at 6205 Quincy Avenue. This was a liquor/marijuana raid and when they arrived at the building, officers entered and proceeded to the suspect’s apartment on the second floor.
As they arrived, they saw a woman throw two containers out a window. Officer Smith retrieved the containers and found one contained whiskey and the other, alcohol. Placing them on a shelf, he proceeded to guard the two suspects, a husband and wife.
Fearing the suspects might try to destroy the evidence, Smith decided to hold the containers. As he lifted the jug containing the alcohol, the husband grabbed a wooden coat hanger and smashed the jug, spilling the contents over a lit stove. The alcohol ignited, engulfing Smith in flames. Officer Kolesar quickly wrapped Smith in a mattress and extinguished the flames. Kolesar sustained burns to his hands and face. While tending to Smith the two suspects, Eiva Veron and his wife, escaped, however, a third person was arrested.
Smith was rushed to St. Vincent Charity Hospital in critical condition. Numerous officers gave blood, as did his wife. Four days after the incident, Smith succumbed to his injuries while his wife was enroute to the hospital to give more blood.
On June 10, 1939, Officer Clarence T. Smith was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. He left behind a loving wife, two sons, a brother, sister and his parents.
The day he was buried, Eiva Veron entered an innocent plea and was later sentenced to the Ohio State Penitentiary.
Clarence Smith’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C. panel 28, west wall, line 1.
By Recruit Leonard Moore, Cleveland Police Academy