On October 12, 1965, Patrolman Thomas R. Graham, 38, was shot and killed by Nathaniel Harris, a burglary suspect whom Officer Graham was transporting to police headquarters from a north side business where Harris had been arrested. At 6:51 p.m. Officer Graham marked out of service at police headquarters at 50 North Alabama Street. As he escorted Harris to the prisoners' elevator in the basement of headquarters, a struggle ensued and Harris gained control of the patrolman's revolver. Harris shot and fatally wounded Officer Graham.
Officer Graham was found 5 feet from the elevator at about 7:10 pm by officers who were going to the police garage in the basement. His hat was found in the elevator cage. His badge, torn from his uniform, was found in the hallway. Officer Graham's revolver was found about 5 feet from him; one bullet had been fired. A spent bullet was found about 25 feet away.
Officer Graham was taken to General Hospital where he died at about 9:40 p.m. Doctors said the bullet struck him in the right temple and came out the other side of his head.
Harris fled up a ramp leading from the police garage after the shooting. Dozens of police cars ringed the downtown area and blocked off the entrances at police headquarters and the City-County Building. All available policemen, including traffic policemen and the mobile reserve units, were pressed into the search. The Marion County Sheriff's Department supplied 100 deputies. Roadblocks were set up by Indianapolis, Lawrence, and state police and sheriff's deputies at all main roads leading from the city. Weir Cook Municipal Airport and Union Station also were watched.
Harris eluded authorities for two days. He was captured on October 14 in a near northside house after police received a tip identifying his location. Harris was arrested on a warrant charging him with murder. Initially found mentally incompetent to stand trial, Harris was convicted and received a life sentence in Marion County Criminal Court in 1969. The judge reversed his verdict in 1971, ruling that defense witnesses had been improperly excluded during a sanity hearing. A new trial was set; Harris was found guilty for the second time in 1972.
Officer Graham was a life-long resident of Indianapolis. He served in the United States Navy aboard an LST during World War II. He was the recipient of the Victory Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars and the Philippine Liberation Medal with two Bronze Stars. Officer Graham joined the Police Department on September 20, 1956. During his service with the Department, he received several commendations. He was described by co-workers as quiet and hard-working -- "the best."
Officer Graham was buried at New Crown Cemetery. His funeral cortege was escorted by motorcycle policemen who were graduates in the same police training program with him and who joined the force when he did. All personnel at police headquarters lined both sides of Alabama Street in a final tribute to Officer Graham as the procession passed.
Officer Graham was survived by his wife, Donna.
Source: The Indianapolis Star, October 13 - 15, 1965. The Indianapolis Recorder, January 29 and February 5, 1966; June 5, 1971; May 27, 1972.