Charleston police officer killed in the line of duty in 1870 to be honored during national memorial service

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A fallen Charleston Police Officer will be honored during a National Peace Officer Memorial Service on Wednesday night.

Private Thomas J. Martin, an African American, died in the line of duty 150 years ago.

Charleston Police say they learned his story over the past year after finding evidence Martin was not properly recognized for his service.

Evidence shows Martin was shot and killed after ordering a group of white soldiers to desist while responding to a disturbance on King Street on July 21st, 1870.

According to CPD spokesman Charles Francis, after rapping the curbstone to summon assistance, one of the soldiers, Sgt William A. Johnson, drew a pistol and fired a round at Private Martin.

Martin was taken to his home where he died almost two hours later. He left behind a wife and children.

Five United States soldiers were charged with Martin’s murder.

Sgt William A. Johnson and John W. Morgan were charged with the murder of Private Martin, and soldiers John Howe, Bernard Lyons and John Smith were charged as accessories.

“This year we will honor the memory of Private Thomas J. Martin and the sacrifice he made for the City of Charleston during the National Peace Officers Memorial Service,” said Francis.

The Memorial in Washington D.C. will hold a virtual Candlelight Vigil at 8:00 p.m. in which Private Martin’s name will be read, along with his name forever immortalized on the memorial wall.

Citizens can light a virtual candle for Private Martin during the National Candlelight Vigil at the following link: https://LawMemorial.org/VirtualCandlelightVigil beginning at 8 p.m.

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