Muskogee Honors Fallen Police Officer

Monday, March 10th 2008, 7:38 am
By: News On 6

It was 100 years ago that Muskogee Police Officer L.F. Harvey was shot and killed in an alley in downtown Muskogee.  Harvey was buried in an unmarked grave in Green Hill Cemetery.  The News On 6's Rick Wells reports the Muskogee Police Department dedicated a headstone to forever honor his memory on Monday.

"He was the first officer killed in the line of duty in the county and city of Muskogee," said Muskogee Police Chaplain Guy Parrish.

And, Harvey was only the third officer killed in the line of duty in the new state of Oklahoma.  At the time of his death, he was buried in a grave donated by the city.

Muskogee Police Sgt. Pete Liimatta was doing research last year and found Harvey's story, but wanted to know more.

"There's gotta be more to the story than just a paragraph worth of material there," said Sgt. Pete Liimatta.

So he kept digging and in the dusty archives of the cemetery he found the unmarked gravesite.

"I guess back at the time if you didn't belong to a fraternal organization you didn't have money for a grave or burial," said Sgt. Pete Liimatta.

Today's Fraternal Order of Police purchased a headstone to mark Harvey's grave.  They couldn't find a photograph, but several great grand children were found.

They brought their families with flowers and flags to honor the memory of a great -grand father they knew little about.

"I think it's wonderful.  I can't imagine them doing anything this elaborate," said Gloria Berner, Harvey's great-granddaughter.

There was everything, a memorial wreath laid by the police and fire chief, a full honor guard, and a lone piper to play "Amazing Grace."

As a postscript, Harvey's killer, Jessie Cox, confessed but pleaded not-guilty.   He said he had killed Harvey in self defense.

The jury found him not guilty of first degree murder and acquitted him.