Pittsfield Police Honor Officer Who Died in the line of duty in 1956
Today the Pittsfield Police Department is honoring a fallen officer who passed away on this day in 1956. Police Officer Leo Sullivan suffered a fatal heart attack while dealing with an intoxicated man at a local Berkshire restaurant. Officer Sullivan was off duty at the time.
According to the post on the Pittsfield Facebook page, Officer Leo Sullivan served on the Pittsfield Police Department for 29 years. Officer Sullivan was 54 years old and was survived at the time by his wife and three children.
Five officers have died locally while serving in a law enforcement capacity: Capt. Michael Leonard, in 1898; Jailer James Fuller, 1901; Secret Service Operative William Craig, 1902; Officer Leo Sullivan, 1956; and Officer Timothy Shepard, 1988.
In 1898 Captain Michael Lenard was struck by a train as he was attempting to help a mother and child off the tracks. A freight train approaching the station failed to slow down, striking Capt. Lenard. Over 5,000 people had gathered at the train depot that day awaiting the arrival of soldiers returning from the Spanish-American War. Capt. Lenard was 55 years old and left behind a wife and eleven children.
Operative William Craig with the United States Secret Service was killed in the line of duty when the carriage he was riding in was struck by a trolley on South Main Street in Pittsfield. Craig was on a detail protecting President Roosevelt at the time of his death. It is not clear if President Roosevelt was in the same carriage as Craig, but Craig’s obituary mentions that President Roosevelt, along with the Governor of Massachusetts, were slightly injured in the accident. The trolley operator was found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to six months in jail. William Craig was the first Secret Service member killed while protecting a president. He was 47 years old.
James Fuller worked as a Jailer at the Pittsfield House of Correction in 1901 when he was beaten to death by a prisoner with a six-pound whalebone mallet. Fuller was overseeing 20 prisoners in the prison's workshop. Fuller’s killer was declared insane and committed to Bridgewater Insane Asylum in 1901 where he died in 1903. Before working at the prison Fuller was a member of the Pittsfield Police Department. James Fuller was 69 years old at the time of his death. One of his two sons went on to become the Sheriff of Berkshire County.
On a tragic day at the Police Academy in 1988, Officer Timothy Shepard was overcome with heat stroke and dehydration as he was pushed to the limits during endurance training. According to his obituary, Cadets were only given small cups of water while performing push-ups, running and other strenuous exercises for hours. Officer Shepard had to undergo a liver transplant, he slipped into a coma and later died from complications. Shepard’s issues were not isolated that day as fifteen other Cadets were hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration. Officer Shepard and his wife were expecting their first child at the time of his death.
The Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation website was the source of the fallen officers obituary information.