Error Killing By Police To Be Aired

Los Angeles Times – July 12, 1935

The story, in detail, of how William Focher, 35 years of age, was fatally shot by police officers late Wednesday night following an altercation with Lou Daro, wrestling promoter, will be told by half a dozen witnesses at an inquest into Focher’s death in the Coroner’s office, Hall of Justice, at 9:30 a.m. next Monday.

Pending the outcome of this inquiry, John S. Moore, 25, of 320 1/2 West Forty-seventh Place, companion of Focher at the time of the shooting, was yesterday ordered held in jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Several versions of the shooting were being considered by detectives yesterday. Detective Lieutenant Sanderson of the central homicide squad reported that, after talking with Daro, Moore, the officers involved in the shooting and several witnesses, he believes the officers fired the fatal shots at Focher because they thought Focher and Moore were bandits.

Sanderson reported he learned that Focher and Moore had been drinking while attending the wrestling bouts at the Olympic Auditorium, and that once during the evening Focher had been taken to Daro’s office when he threw a bottle into the ring. He was questioned about the disturbance and then allowed to go.

Later, when the bouts were concluded, Focher and Moore reappeared. Daro said he was preparing to leave the auditorium with Caroll Johnson and Carl Girard of the State Athletic Commission when Focher drove up and yelled that he was going to get him.

Jack Nelson, Negro wrestler, ran to Focher’s car and said he found Moore sitting in the back seat with a hammer in his hand. He took the hammer away while Johnson telephoned police.

A few moments later Radio Patrol Officers Welch, Chase and Woodridge drove up. Several of the group which had collected about Daro shouted to the officers to catch Focher and Moore, who were just driving away.

“It’s a stick-up — get them!” was the cry, according to Sanderson.

The officers immediately started in pursuit. Welch said he fired two shots at the tires of Focher’s car before the machine was brought to a halt at Twentieth and Figueroa streets. Focher then leaped out of the car and ran, according to the officers. When he failed to stop at a command from Welch, the officer fired with his pistol and Chase fired with a shotgun. Focher was struck by both shots. He died several hours later in Georgia-street Receiving Hospital.

Focher lived at 2209 Echo Park avenue, where he leaves a widow and 10-year-old daughter. He worked in a garage at 833 South Spring street.

Several witnesses of the shooting said Focher had encountered Daro after the bouts to demand payment of a garage bill which he said Daro owed his brother.


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