Killing of Leonard Butler in Alabama in 1948


Case summary

Leonard Butler (a/k/a Captain Leonard Butler), age 53, a miner and a pastor, was killed in 1948 by two police deputies employed by the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company in Jefferson County, Alabama who stopped Butler to question him on his way to the mines. The motive for the killing was that Butler had harassed a white teenager and, when questioned, pulled a gun on the company’s deputies. An alternative motive involved the fact that Butler was a leader in the local United Mine Workers Union. Three thousand miners went out on a wildcat strike to protest Butler’s killing. Butler’s widow was awarded $10,000 in a wrongful death suit. 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: 1948-06-05
Location: Edgewater, Jefferson County, Alabama
Location type: public space - urban
Allegation against victim: molesting a girl; engaging in union activity; drawing a pistol on a police officer

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:


Civil lawsuits/claims filed: yes

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