Killing of Earley Bird Hamilton in Arkansas in 1937


Case summary

Earley Bird Hamilton (1904 - 1937), a cook, was killed by police officers in Prairie County, Arkansas. According to newspaper reports, deputy sheriff Joe Harper and four deputized men J. J. “Jerry” Screeton, C. S. Proctor, Joe Crowley, George Burkhart, arrested Hamilton allegedly on a charge of raping a white woman. Harper claimed that Hamilton attempted to grab a gun from him, prompting the other officers to fatally shoot Hamilton. Hamilton’s wife described the incident in different terms. She stated that a mob, including the above officers, came to the Hamilton home in the middle of the night to arrest him. Her husband did not resist when the mob took him out of the house and began shooting at him. A coroner’s jury cleared the perpetrators.


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: police, posse, mob

Date of incident: 1937-05-01
Location: Hazen, Prairie County, Arkansas
Location type: public space - urban
Allegation against victim: raping a white woman; quitting a job; resisting arrest

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

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

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