Thursday, July 5, 2012
Fargo Police Officer Frederick Alderman was accidentally shot and killed in the line of duty on this date in 1882. At only twenty-five years old, the ill-fated officer had served with the department only two months.
Born in Oakfield, Wisconsin, in 1857, Frederick moved to North Dakota and began working as an officer for the Fargo Police Department in the spring of 1882. For two months, Alderman saw little action. Then, on the evening of the fourth of July, 1882, a suspect was charged with public drunkenness, arrested, and placed into the city jail until he could pay a fine of eight dollars and fifty cents. Without the money to pay the fine, the man was still incarcerated the following morning. The prisoner begged Alderman to pay the remainder of his fine in exchange for a watch and some valuables. Alderman agreed. Shortly after the suspect was freed, however, it was discovered that the goods had been stolen. Alderman and his partner canvassed the city for much of the day, hoping to discover the suspect’s whereabouts. That night, they received a tip that the man lived on the outskirts of Fargo, and the two officers went to the location. Unfortunately, the officers were not equipped lanterns, and in the darkness, the patrolmen became disoriented and mistook a neighboring home for the suspect’s location. Officer Alderman knocked on the door and asked to enter. Receiving no answer, he attempted to force his way in; in the process, he was shot in the chest and instantly killed. The house’s owner had shot Alderman, believing him to be a local tramp who had been attempting to break into area homes. The woman was initially charged, but a jury later ruled the killing justifiable given the circumstances.
On May 15, 2008, Officer Alderman’s name was added to North Dakota’s memorial for fallen officers in a ceremony honoring the state’s peace officers. North Dakota Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle spoke during the ceremony, remarking that “it is fitting that we honor [Officer Alderman’s] memory even some 126 years later.”
Dakota Datebook written by Jayme Job