In Memoriam… San Diego Police officers who gave “The Last Full Measure of Devotion”

Jim Sills Jim Sills 4 Comments


Inevitably there will be disputes over police budgets, priorities and policies. But there is NO dispute about the courage, professionalism and dedication to duty of those who “Protect and Serve” our City of San Diego.

In the belief that it’s always better to put faces to the names, here are six men and women who lost their lives while serving in the SDPD. Five of the six died from gunshot wounds, another was run over by a vehicle. You can read their stories, and those of 25 other City officers at this link:

In most cases they were trying to disarm fleeing felons, control people on PCP, or stop escalting violence. In every case they were defending the safety of our neighborhoods and our homes.

The service of all law enforcement officers in San Diego County is sincerely appreciated.


Comments 4

  1. Jim:

    Appreciate the sentiment behind this post. I too mourn the loss of anyone who puts their life on the line to serve and protect others, but that term, “the last full measure of devotion” was used by Lincoln at Gettysburg to describe the efforts of Union soldiers who died in one of the bloodiest battles in American history to preserve the Union. It has since been used to describe the efforts of those who fight and die in our nation’s wars. Not sure these deaths, as honorable as they are, quite measure up.

  2. We’ll let Jim answer for himself, but if anyone knows the origination of the phrase, it would be Mr. Sills.

  3. Post

    Here are summaries of how these 6 Heroes lost their lives
    in defense of San Diego’s homes and neighborhoods.

    Rostra Readers can draw their own conclusions. I believe
    each of them richly desrves the words coined by President
    A. Lincoln 147 years ago to describe those who bravely lay
    down their lives to protect our country and communities.

    None of them hid behind a fake name, by the way.

    Patrolman Anaya was shot and killed after a man
    high on PCP gained control of his weapon. Patrolman
    Anaya had responded to a call of a man attacking his
    family with a knife. During a struggle the suspect gained
    control of Patrolman Anaya’s weapon and shot him.
    He then shot and killed himself. Patrolman Anaya was
    paralyzed from the neck down until he succumbed to
    his injuries three weeks later.

    An eyewitness to this crime gave this vivid testimony at
    the 1987 trial of her murderer (who was convicted and
    sentenced to death}

    “The lady (Tonahill) was on her right side. . I tried to
    administer CPR to her . . There was a hole on her left
    side . . …it was in between (where the armored vest
    joined at the side). . . She took two deep breaths and
    started crying.’ Tonahill, who was shot four times, died
    at the scene from a bullet that pierced a lung and her

    Officer Tonahill was attempting to search a gang
    member when she was crueley shot and killed.

    From the LA Times of August 12, 1986…………

    ” San Diego Police Officer Archie Buggs is lying on
    the street, blood spilling out from his head. He was
    shot execution style Nov. 4, 1978, while writing a
    routine citation for an open container of alcohol in
    a car.”

    The traffic stop had been made on 2 gang members.

    Patrolman Hartless was shot and killed while in a foot
    pursuit of a gang member. His partner found him face
    down in the street and he was transported to a local
    hospital where he remained in a coma for 22 days.
    The gunman in the shooting was never identified and
    the case remains unsolved. Patrolman Hartless had
    been with the agency only nine months.

    Sergeant Edwards was shot and killed when he
    approached a suspicious man behind a convenience
    store. The man had just committed an armed robbery
    of the store moments before. [It was a 7-11 in East
    San Diego. This crime remains a legendary event
    in SDPD history].

    Motor officer Bennett spotted a stolen truck in Encanto
    and pursued the fleeing felon, who had taken the truck
    from a downtown construction site. The thief was driving
    erratically, and slammed into several cars during the

    On Iona Street, the felon abruptly made a U-turn, pointed
    the truck toward the pursuing officer and ran him down,
    witnesses said He died from his injuries within minutes.
    The person convicted of this crime had a lengthy criminal
    history and got a life sentence without possibility of parole.


    Here is the context in which President Lincoln used the
    phrase “last full measure of devotion”. I invite Rostra
    Readers to see if it applies to these 6 San Diego oficers:

    “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion
    to that cause for which they gave the last full measure
    of devotion
    – that we here highly resolve that these dead
    shall not have died in vain
    – that this nation, under God,
    shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of
    the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from
    the earth.”

    You can best believe that when these 5 men and 1 woman
    passed St. Peter’s approval, many a veteran of Gettysburg
    came to attention and saluted them as brothers and sister.

  4. Did both the police officers and the soldiers experience violent deaths at the hands of mortal enemies, while defending the institutions and citizens they were sworn to protect? I think so. Thanks, Jim.

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