Downtown Los Angeles header image
Los Angeles Police Department Memorial BadgeLos Angeles Police Department Badge

Official Site of The LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT


 Clay N. Hunt, Policeman

Clay N. Hunt

Tuesday, February 22, 1955



Hunt, Clay N.

Rank: Policeman

Serial Number:1007

Division: Hollywood Detectives

Location: Santa Monica and Gower

Date Killed: Tuesday, February 22, 1955

Cause of Death: Traffic Accident

Bio: Detective Hunt was killed in an automobile
accident while on duty.

Tuesday, February 22, 1955, had been a typical winter day in Los
Angeles. The weather had been mild in the mid 60's. Detective Clay
Noble Hunt, Serial No. 1007 was working Hollywood Detectives when
he and his partner, Sergeant Robert O. Young, aged 37, were
assigned a routine death investigation involving the noted
cartoonist, William De La Torre. As Detective Hunt and Sergeant
Young travelled on Santa Monica Boulevard and Gower Streets, a
vehicle driven by a jazz musician named Beryl C. Sheldon ran a red
light and collided with the two officers' unmarked vehicle. The
crash proved fatal for Detective Hunt and he succumbed to injuries
received during the collision.

Detective Clay Hunt was born in Los Angeles County, on September
12, 1912 to Charles Thomas Hunt and Hattie Hunt (nee Wheaton). By
1920, Clay lived at 2227 West Sunset Boulevard, where Clay's mother
earned a living as operator at a knitting mill. The family later
moved to 220 East 38th Street in today's Newton Division, where
Clay left high school at the age of 16 to work full time as an auto
mechanic.

On September 1, 1937, Detective Clay Hunt was appointed to the Los
Angeles Police Department. By 1940, Detective Hunt was working
patrol and lived in North Hollywood near the 1700 block of Coast
Highway, with his wife Rita E. Hunt (nee Halloran). In 1951, Clay
Hunt promoted to detective and was subsequently assigned to
Hollywood Division. In November 1953, Detective Hunt and his
partner had survived a violent confrontation with an armed suspect
in the corridor of a hotel located at 1961 Cahuenga Boulevard. The
suspect had shot Detective Hunt along his left shoulder. The bullet
grazed Hunt's suit jacket but left him uninjured. A Los Angeles
Times photograph captured the close call and detailed Detective
Hunt pointing out the location of the bullet hole on his
jacket.

On the date of his death, Detective Hunt and Sergeant Young were
responding to what was considered a routine "death investigation"
involving the natural death of the creator of the "Little Pedro"
comic strip, William De La Torre. The 23 year old driver, Beryl
Sheldon, was traveling southbound on Gower Street when he failed to
stop for a red traffic signal at Santa Monica Boulevard, colliding
with the passenger side of the officers' vehicle. Both officers
were subsequently transported to Georgia Street Receiving Hospital.
While Sergeant Young's injuries were serious, Detective Hunt was
gravely injured. He died from the trauma sustained during the
traffic collision.

The traffic investigation found Sheldon in possession of marijuana
at the time of the collision. Following the crash, Sheldon claimed
his brakes failed. However, the investigation further revealed
Sheldon's vehicle left some 70 feet of skid marks, pointing at
speed as the primary factor. He was arrested for a narcotics charge
and eventually stood trial for the death of Hunt. A judge found
Sheldon to have displayed "gross negligence" in causing the
collision that killed Detective Hunt. The narcotics charge was
dismissed at trial and Sheldon was found guilty of manslaughter. On
September 3, 1955, Beryl Sheldon Jr. was sentenced to four months
in jail for the collision that took the life of Detective
Hunt.

Detective Clay Noble Hunt was laid to rest at Forst Lawn Memorial
Park in Glendale, California. He was survived by his wife Rita E.
Hunt. His gravestone may be viewed on line at FindAGrave.Com.

Lieutenant J. A. Macias, Serial No.
27710


LAPD Fallen Officers Badge

INTERESTING FACTS