End of Watch: 07/09/1934
Agency: King County Sheriff’s Office
County: King County
On Monday, July 9, 1934, Special Deputy Steven Watson was with a group of other deputies during labor unrest near the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Seneca Street. In the middle of a riot, Special Deputy Watson was dragged out of a car by strike agitators, beaten, then shot and killed. He was shot with his .32 caliber revolver, which was taken from him while he was assaulted. After the riot, Special Deputy Watson was found near the overturned car he was riding in.
The longshoreman’s strike began on May 9, 1934 when members of the International Longshoremen’s Association struck ports and steamship lines on the West Coast. Violence between strikers, strike breakers, agitators and police resulted in deaths in San Francisco and Seattle. The strike effectively shut down West Coast ports for 83 days.
The Seattle Police Department was assisted by 200 “special deputies” who were sworn into service basically as a reserve force by King County Sheriff Claude Bannick. These special deputies did receive a small wage, but no formal training.
The strike agitators included a group of Communists who came to the region and terrorized the Seattle area. The strike originally involved only the 1,200 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association. The group of rioters followed non-union workers and police officers in the area where they assaulted, fire bombed and stole cars.
A coroner’s jury determined Special Deputy Watson’s cause of death, but it was never determined who was responsible for his death.