Memorial planned for first black officer killed on Tulsa patrol

Wednesday, October 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

On Halloween night in 1927, Officer Robert
Jackson was gunned down while on patrol in north Tulsa, making him the first black Tulsa police officer killed in the line of duty.

The daily newspaper wrote a few paragraphs about it.
The two-year police veteran was buried in a predominantly black cemetery. There were no public records, no markings.

On Sunday, the 72nd anniversary of Jackson's death, the fallen officer will finally be formally remembered. A headstone has been donated and a 21-guard salute has been organized.

"We're glad we found him, and he'll get the honor that he deserves," said Doug Cash, chairman of the Tulsa Police Memorial Fund Committee. "We had been looking for him for a while."

The exact location of where Jackson was buried remained a public mystery until last week. The memorial committee has been looking for years, but it was a caretaker who finally ended the search.

The caretaker at the Rolling Oaks Cemetery remembered a visitor who asked him why Cornelius White, a black Tulsa police officer
killed during duty in 1951, had an American flag at his grave and Jackson did not.

The caretaker told the memorial committee, and Jackson's grave was found last week. "But we don't know where that relative is or any family. We're still searching," Cash said.

Jackson was only 42 years old when he was killed Oct. 31, 1927.

The morning after the shooting, The Tulsa Daily World printed on its front page, "Negro Policeman is Shot to Death."

A short article explained how Jackson was patrolling in the North Greenwood district when a woman rushed up to him and said her
husband, Perey Ellis, was threatening to shoot her.

Ellis then opened fire as Jackson started to walk up the steps to the residence. "Although mortally wounded, Jackson returned the
fire, shooting Ellis four times," the World reported.

Jackson was shot four times and died on the way to the hospital. Ellis, who had been drinking, had an arm amputated.

There have been 38 Tulsa police officers killed in the line of duty since 1917. The memorial committee is still searching for the grave of one last officer -- W.C. Meachem who was killed in 1920 and buried in Arkansas.

Since Jackson's death, only two other black Tulsa police officers have been killed on-duty, White and Claude Lynch, who died in 1948.

Cash said it feels more complete to finally know where Jackson was buried. And now, the officer will have an American flag, too.