Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016
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Police & Fire

Dressel's death struck a nerve for Bill Boyle

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Officers Walter Boyle, left, and Donald Brown Bill Boyle s brother and police partner died from gunshot wounds.

Unlike many Toledoans who heard last week that a Toledo police office had been shot and killed, Bill Boyle knew exactly what the other officers at the scene were going through.

He had been there himself in 1962.

Officer Boyle and his partner responded to a domestic call on 14th Street. When he got there, he was told the man had a gun and would shoot anyone who went to the house.


Officers Walter Boyle, left, and Donald Brown Bill Boyle s brother and police partner died from gunshot wounds.


Officer Boyle called for backup and heard a gunshot, one that wounded his partner, Officer Frank Hays, who was behind a tree.

Officer Boyle took cover. He couldn t see the origin of the shots. Officer Don Brown arrived as backup and was directly across the street from the gunman s home.

I think he fired and the next thing I knew, I saw him spin around and go down, Mr. Boyle recalled last week.

Officer Boyle fired three times at the door and then found himself wounded and on the ground.

The shock was it knocked me right on my butt, flat out. And I couldn t see, he said. He lost his right eye as a result of the gunshot wounds.

Officer Brown died from injuries of the shotgun blast in which 40 pellets struck his body, some of them around the brain. He was 32.

Oliver Nickerson, the gunman, was wounded by police and taken into custody.


Officer Boyle in 1962


Just six months earlier, Officer Boyle lost his brother, Walter Boyle, a fellow Toledo police officer, to another gunman.

Walter was just 29 when he went to an East Toledo home to serve a warrant to Raymond Brothers, who was accused by his wife of threatening her with a knife.

Numerous officers before his brother had gone to the home on Elmore Street and nobody was there. So when Officer Walter Boyle approached the door that day in December, 1961, his partner stayed in the car.

His partner never got out of the wagon, and I think he saw my brother running around the house and that s the last anyone saw of him, Bill Boyle said.

Walter Boyle was found shot once in the forehead and three times in the chest. Brothers later killed himself while surrounded by police.

It happened and then bam boom, the next thing you know he s buried, Bill Boyle said. It took the starch out of me for awhile, but you have to go back and do what you have to do. That s what I did.

Believe me, you never forget it. It s always with you.

The death of Toledo police Detective Keith Dressel last week is a tragic reminder of how dangerous police work can be, Mr. Boyle, a former county Democratic Party chairman and former city councilman, told The Blade from his winter home in Florida.


Bill Boyle, in 1993, served in several political positions after serving as a Toledo police officer.


Detective Dressel was on routine patrol in North Toledo early Wednesday when he and his partners approached two young men suspected of at least violating curfew and possibly taking part in a drug deal in the 1400 block of North Ontario Street.

When the police officers identified themselves, the two individuals ran. After a short foot chase, Officer Dressel caught up with one but was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, allegedly at the hands of a 15-year-old boy, Robert Jobe.

The 35-year-old undercover vice detective is the 31st police officer to be killed while on duty in Toledo.

You start thinking, said Mr. Boyle, now 77, just like every year when I go to the memorial service, you think of not only those you were involved with, [but] those before you.

Keep going

It gets to you, you know. You just got to shake your head and keep going.

Mr. Boyle and his brothers, Walter, Daniel, and Regis, all served as cops in Toledo a rarity of four brothers on the force at the same time.

In a dangerous world, Mr. Boyle said the Toledo Police Department is fortunate to have gone more than 36 years without an officer lost.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre said it s pure luck there haven t been more officers killed on duty. It s not for a lack of danger or injuries on the job.

There are probably at least three dozen officers who have been shot in the line of duty since my appointment in 1977, the chief said. We ve been lucky. I don t know if medical science has improved. I know wearing of the vest has something to do with it.

Before 1995, it was optional for police to wear bulletproof vests, the chief said.

Since then, vests are provided for officers, but before that they shared the cost with the city and at one time were responsible for buying them for themselves.

Prior to last week, the last Toledo police officer killed in the line of duty was Officer William Miscannon, who died Sept. 18, 1970, when he was outside the Toledo headquarters of the Black Panthers and a late-model Cadillac pulled behind the patrol wagon he was in. A man got out and shot the officer in the head.

Hung juries

A man was charged with the crime, but two trials ended in hung juries.

Of the 31 Toledo police officers killed in the line of duty, 22 died of gunshot wounds from crime suspects. In addition to Officer Walter Boyle, Officer Brown, Officer Miscannon, and Detective Dressel, the following were shot and killed on duty:

• Officer Charles Russell, Oct. 9, 1906. Shot by an unknown suspect.

• Officer James Boyle, May 5, 1908. No relation to the Boyle brothers, he was shot while searching for three men who had looted a railroad car at Lafayette and Erie streets.

• Officer Harry Smith, Sept. 25, 1911. Shot while responding to a burglary call at Monroe and Bancroft streets.

• Officer Albert Schultz, Aug. 7, 1914. Shot by a burglar suspect on Englewood Court.

• Officer Kaiser Bartecki, Jan. 21, 1915. Shot in the 300 block of Kosciusko Street when responding to a domestic dispute.


The Toledo Police Band gathers in May, 1947, outside the old East Side Police Station. One officer, Detective Lt. John McCarthy, died in the line of duty in January of that year.


• Officer Adolf Reimer, Aug. 25, 1915. Shot at 300 Woodland during a landlord-tenant dispute.

• Officer Louis Jaswiecki, March 31, 1918. Shot while questioning two robbery suspects.

• Officer William A. Bather, May 27, 1919. Found shot at City Park Avenue and Curtis Street, apparently by robbery suspects.

• Officers Harold Mossburger and Harry A. Dowell, June 9, 1921. Both shot by a barricaded gunman in a landlord-tenant dispute at 611 Walnut St.

• Officer William Kress, Aug. 1, 1921. Shot while questioning suspects on Canton Avenue.

• Lt. William Martin, Sept. 6, 1921. Shot by an auto theft suspect at a garage at Fulton and Prescott streets.

• Officer Charles McGuire, Dec. 22, 1921. Found shot at Indiana Avenue and Division Street. The circumstances of his death remain unknown.

• Officer William A. Reed, Dec. 28, 1921. Shot while questioning suspects on Canton Avenue.


Officer William Miscannon, 1970


• Officer George Zientara, April 16, 1928. Shot at 2304 Upton Ave. when responding to a call of suspicious activity and meeting a group of men who had seized an armored car.

• Officer Edward O Briest, May 19, 1931. Shot at 300 Moorish Ave. while on an undercover assignment.

• Officer Edward D. Keim, Aug. 11, 1932. Shot at a gas station on Indiana and Heston Street after an attendant was kidnapped and taken there to open a safe.

• Detective Lt. John McCarthy, Jan. 7, 1947. Shot in the 600 block of Jackson Street by a prisoner in the backseat who was being transported to the Safety Building.

Two police officers were victims of accidental shootings by their partners.

Detective William H. Julert was shot accidentally by his partner Jan. 29, 1924, while they were arresting two suspects for a holdup at Manhattan Boulevard and Elm Street. His partner was removing a gun from the belt of one of the suspects when he slipped on an icy sidewalk and the gun discharged as he fell.

Officer Walter Mullin was accidentally shot May 12, 1925, by his partner, who mistook him for a prowler suspect.

Six officers have died as a result of traffic crashes:

• Officer George F. Zapf was killed Sept. 23, 1919, when his motorcycle skidded under a street car at Madison Avenue and Superior Street.

• Officer Fritz Bacon was killed Aug. 13, 1922, when he was struck by a vehicle at Front and Main streets while on traffic duty.


Officer Albert Schultz, 1914


• Officer Harvey O Neil was killed Nov. 8, 1938, when his motorcycle and a car collided at Bancroft and Monroe.

• Officer Fred Disel was killed May 5, 1944, in an auto accident at Monroe and 17th Street.

• Officer Harold Stevens was killed July 3, 1948, when a police ambulance and a car collided at Monroe and 17th Street.

• Officer Albert Fadell was killed in a Nov. 18, 1948, when his motorcycle and a car collided at Canton and Beacon streets.

Officer John Hassett is the first police officer who died in the line of duty. He was killed by falling debris during a tornado March 5, 1880.

Contact Meghan Gilbert or419-724-6050.

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