Remembering the Fallen: Dakota County Officers Who Died in the Line of Duty

Slain Cold Spring Police Officer Tom Decker will soon enter the ranks of Minnesota's Fallen Officers, which also include six Dakota County lawmen.

As the state mourns Cold Spring Officer Tom Decker, the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association (LEMA) prepares to add yet another entry in its lengthy list of fallen officers. Included among the ranks are six Dakota County men, who served from the Victorian age on.

Here are their stories, according LEMA:

• Hastings Police Officer Albert Jacobson died on July 10, 1894, after chasing two burglary suspect near a railyard. One of the suspects, John Ivan, fired at Jacobson and his partner as they approached. Jacobson was hit, but was able to fire off one return shot as he fell. His partner fired five shots, but Ivan escaped by jumping into the river and swimming across. Ivan was later captured near Point Douglas. Some reports say the a lynch mob killed the two suspects, who are referred to as "Russian Poles." Others say they were not harmed, though under heavy guard at the jail. The outcome of the case is not clear. At the time of his death, Jacobson was 33 years old, with a wife and four kids.

• Rosemount Police Officer John Francis McDermott died on May 22, 1923. On the night prior, he was working the late shift, filling in for Police Officer Joe Heinen. Recently, unknown suspects had threatened to "get" a Rosemount cop, so when McDermott observed two suspicious men he called in three other officers for backup. Unfortunately, one of his fellow cops mistook McDermott for one of the suspects. He commanded McDermott to stop, but he did not respond. The officer fired a warning shot into the air, but McDermott did not heed this either, so the officer shot McDermott several times with a shotgun, wounding him in the lungs and head. The suspects fled the scene. McDermott died the next day at the Sanford Hospital in Farmington. He was 27 and unmarried.

• Dakota County Deputy Rudolph A. Fischer died on Aug. 5, 1932. At 2 a.m. he responded to a burglary in progress at the Riverview Golf Clubhouse in South St. Paul. He and another deputy captured the two suspects, Harold Wilder and Dewey Sharpe, and booked them into the jail in Hastings. On the way to the cell, Wilder tackled the other deputy, took his gun and fired at Fischer. Both men were ultimately given life sentences in the Stillwater prison. Fischer left behind a wife and three young daughters.

• On Aug. 30, 1933, South St. Paul Police Officer Leo Pavlak and two messengers were transporting payroll money from the South St. Paul Railway Station to Swift and Company. En route they were intercepted by a "big black sedan with a siren blaring and smoke coming from the back." Two men jumped out with and automatic and a shotgun, and yelled to "Stick 'em up." Pavlak threw up his hands wihtout reaching for his gun. At that moment, another officer in a sqaud car drove around the corner into view, which prompted a gale of gunfire from the  suspects. The men fired a machine gun and started firing in to a nearby post office, then barraged the immediate area within a 360 degree radius with bullets. Pavlak was killed with a shotgun at close range. Incredibly, the cop in the squad car lived, in spite of shots to the face with machine gun bullets. Pavlak was 38 at the time of his death. He left a wife and two children behind. 

• Investigator Louis Edward Jeska, of the Eagan PD, died on Aug. 30, 1993 in three-vehicle crash involving a dump truck. The accident occurred at the intersection of Pilot Knob and Cliff Road. He pronounced dead at the scene. At the time, he was 52 years old, a 20 year veteran of the force. He left behind a wife and three children, two of which later went into law enforcement.

• Dakota County Deputy Luther Frederick Klug died on July 17, 1996 around 10:45 p.m. He was traveling south of Hastings on Highway 316 when a drunk driver hit him broadside. The accident happened less than a mile from Klug's home. Suspect Olymuyia S. Akinosi, then 37, of Inver Grove Heights was charged with three counts of vehicular homicide. He pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to 48 months in prison. He was released in 1999. Klug was 36, with a wife and four-year-old son.


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