Retired Seattle Police Officers Association

By: Officer Mike Severance – North Precinct

During the evening hours of Thursday, December 24, 1914, Officer Arthur K. Ruckart, 27, and Officer R. J. Presho were working Patrol out of the SPD Ballard Precinct. They were dispatched to the area of the 2000 block of W. 61st Street to investigate a report of prowlers. While Officer Ruckart was searching the area, he observed a man standing on the back porch at 2039 W. 61st St. He did not see the shotgun in the man’s hands. Officer Ruckart called out to the man, but got no response. As Officer Ruckart opened the gate to the back yard, the subject on the porch raised his shotgun and fired twice. Officer Ruckart returned fire, hitting his assailant in the nose. Officer Ruckart was transported to Providence Hospital where he was able to give a statement which was corroborated by Officer Presho who witnessed the shooting. Officer Ruckart required an operation to perform a blood transfusion. Many fellow officers immediately volunteered to donate blood. The blood transfusion was successful, but Officer Ruckart did not survive a second operation to amputate his left leg. He died at 9:30 p.m. on December 27, 1914.

Officer Ruckart’s assailant was Wilfred Bagley who lived at 2039 W. 61st Street. He survived his wound. He stated he did not recognize Ruckart as a police officer because of the darkness. He thought Officer Ruckart was a chicken thief. An inquest into Officer Ruckart’s death did not assign blame. The inquest ruled that neither Officer Ruckart nor Bagley “used the discretion the situation called for”. I found no record of Bagley ever being charged.
Not too much is known about the life of Officer Arthur Ruckart. He was born in Knoxville, TN in August 1887 to Louis and Eliza Ruckart. He was 12 years old at the time of the 1900 Federal Census. It shows he was still living in Knoxville, and had four siblings ranging in age from 27 years to 9 years. He was still living in Knoxville in 1907. The first record of him living in Seattle is the 1912 Seattle Directory which listed his occupation as “plumber”. Arthur Ruckart was commissioned as a Seattle police officer around the middle of 1913. At the time of his death, he was living at 448 Blewett St. (now N. 35th St.). He was un-married. The newspapers reported he was survived by his father, still living in Knoxville, and a sister, Mrs. Lizzie Jones, who lived at 429 Ewing St. with her husband, Steven E. Jones. Officer Arthur K. Ruckart is buried at Lake View Cemetery.
In May 1998, Officer Arthur K. Ruckart was among forty Seattle police officers, killed between 1881 and 1976, who were posthumously awarded the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. Officer Ruckart had no known surviving family members at that time. His medal has been in the custody of the Seattle Police Department since 1998.