Grave of fallen law enforcement officer re-dedicated

Thursday, May 21, 2020
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(Photo by Crystal Arnold) Stillwater County Undersheriff Randy Smith and Sheriff Chip Kem pray during last Friday’s gravesite re-dedication ceremony.

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Photo by Crystal Arnold

Last Friday, in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office and Columbus Police Department held a grave site re-dedication and placed a new cross and plaque at the grave site for Charles E. Davison, located in the Mountain View Cemetery. Chaplain Joshua Daniels offered a prayer. The cross and plaque were generously donated by Joyce Bruursema and Clara Wagner, both longtime Columbus residents.

Davison is Stillwater County’s only law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty 108 years ago.

On July 28, 1912, at 2 a.m., Officer Davison was shot and killed by an intoxicated man who was creating a disturbance and had earlier assaulted a woman. The suspect was an ex-convict named Homer Porter who had already served a prison term for attempted murder.

On that day in 1912, Porter fired two shots in the air after making threatening statements in what the only eyewitness in the case said was meant to draw Davison out. The tactic worked. Officer Davison found Porter and when he tried to arrest him, Porter open-fired with his revolver, hitting the lawman.

Although mortally wounded, Davison returned fire, hitting Porter four times. Porter fled the scene, according to a 1912 newspaper article about the shooting.

The eyewitness went to the lawman to ask if he was hurt. Davison said he was hurt but told the witness to go get someone who could track down Porter.

Porter was found not far from the scene, critically wounded. He survived his injuries, was charged with first degree murder, convicted of second degree murder and was sentenced to the Montana State Prison for 30 years.

A newspaper article described the incident as Officer Davison being “Ruthlessly Slain” and that he lived for 40 minutes before succumbing to his wounds. His funeral was attended by approximately 500 people.

Davison, 43, had been in law enforcement for three years. He left behind his parents, a sister and several brothers.

Davison’s death is included in the national Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP). Last year, his name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. after it was submitted for inclusion by the Columbus Police Department.

Those in attendance at last Friday’s dedication included Stillwater County Sheriff Chip Kem, Undersheriff Randy Smith, Columbus Chief Gary Timm, Deputy Luke Bruursema, Deputy Toby Reissig, Reserve Deputies Bentley Roth and Rob Harper, Chaplains Scott Davies and Joshua Daniels, Columbus Police Officers Aaron Uecker, Michael Zachary and Matt Grieshop. Also in attendance were Tammie Mullikin and Crystal Arnold of the sheriff’s office, as well as Joyce Bruursema and Clara Wagner.