Milwaukee Cops Executed


A Car Stop Leads to Tragedy 

On January 31, 1972, the Milwaukee Police Department tragically lost two officers in the line of duty.  The officers, Gerald Hempe and Charles Smith were shot to death while performing routine patrol and conducting a car stop.

The two Milwaukee cops were working a 4×12 and patrolling their sector.  They observed a car that appeared suspicious.  It was occupied by four males who were driving another individual’s car.  The two cops, knowing their neighborhood and recognizing the car, thought it might have been stolen.  They whipped a U turn and pulled the car over.

The driver, Rickey Daniels was ordered out of the car.  He became argumentative and a struggle soon ensued.  The car was stopped just a few houses away from Rickey’s home.  One witness claimed the Rickey Daniels had a gun on him.  As the officers fought to get Rickey under arrest, a friend of his named Ben Sanders emerged from a nearby house.  The cops had gotten one cuff on Rickey when Sanders pulled a .32 caliber semiautomatic pistol and executed the two unsuspecting officers. 

Responding Milwaukee cops were able to quickly find and arrest Rickey Daniels.  After a brief investigation, they identified Ben Sanders as the shooter.  About 5 hours after the homicides, detectives found Sanders at his own home a few blocks away.  During the arrest they saw a partially used box of .32 ammunition that matched the casings recovered at the scene. 

Hours later they returned with a search warrant and recovered the bullets and found the murder weapon.  Sanders was indicted on two counts of murder.  He was found guilty at trial and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. 

The Wisconsin criminal justice system, not grasping the meaning of two consecutive life sentences, declared Sanders eligible for parole in 2010.  His bid was denied.  He is up for a parole hearing again in May of 2023.   

Christopher Flanagan
photo By Milwaukee Police Department, Fair use,


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