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Wisconsin Police Officer Honored 6 Decades After Death

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Six decades after a Wisconsin police officer's death, he is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

It was front-page news in 1953. Two officers were shot and a robber killed in Hudson in a dramatic shootout. One officer, Clarence Erickson, died on the scene. The other, Lee Murphy, died after battling his injury for two years.

St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson says what happened here in 1953 is a story worth telling.

"I think it's important historically they're aware of it," he said.

The papers tell the story in dramatic form. A bandit robs a tavern and takes off, he shoots two officers in a gunfight and officers shoot him.

One officer dies at the scene. Patrolman Murphy keeps chasing the suspect, despite his wound. He dies two years later.

The officer who died on the scene, Clarence Erickson, was honored, his name engraved on the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Patrolman Murphy's name wasn't included. His death certificate only listing natural causes, so it didn't meet the strict standards to make the memorial wall.

Sheriff Knudson says Patrolman Murphy deserved the honor, too.

"Because he gave that ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life, not instantly but he also suffered for two years because of the injuries protecting the community," Knudson said.

The sheriff and another deputy tried for years researching medical records, even petitioning the court to change the death certificate.

Then, State Sen. Patty Schachtner who's also a medical examiner stepped in.

"When you read it, you just knew he needed to get the recognition for what he did," Knudson.

The cause of death was changed to homicide and after a decade of trying, they got word that Patrolman Murphy's forgotten sacrifice would officially be remembered.

"We made it right," Sen. Schachtner said.

This is the certificate that changed everything. And in May the sheriff and the senator will go to Washington, D.C. and there will be a ceremony honoring the life of Patrolman Murphy.

Patrolman Murphy has a grandson who is now an officer in Wayzata. Sheriff Knudson says the family is grateful for the long-awaited honor.

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