Killing of Jesse Thornton in Alabama in 1940


Case summary

Jesse Thornton, 26, an overseer on a chicken farm, was killed in 1940 by a group of men led by police officers Doris Rhodes and Noland Ellis in Crenshaw County, Alabama. Thornton was accused of failing to address Officer Rhodes as “Mr.” when he passed him on the sidewalk. Rhodes knocked Thornton down with his blackjack, arrested him and took him to jail where a group of police officers shot him to death. His body was found in a swamp. An essay on this case, researched and authored by a CRRJ student, is available on request.


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: police

Date of incident: 1940-06-21
Location: Luverne, Crenshaw County, Alabama
Location type: public space - urban
Allegation against victim: failing to refer to a white man as "mister"; calling a police officer by his first name

Coroner process
Coroner/inquest: yes
Finding of no legal responsibility: yes

Criminal process
Arrest: [ ]
Charge/indictment/information: [ ]
Grand jury: [ ]
Trial: [ ]
Conviction: [ ]
Sentence: [ ]

DOJ case ID:



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