The early years in California’s capitol city were loaded with crime and violence. The discovery of gold in nearby Coloma brought settlers and criminals seeking riches. Violence erupted daily in the streets and along the riverbanks. The early City/County Council sought to establish law and order and protect the established business community.
In mid-April, 1958, George C. Chapman, a member of the all-volunteer Sacramento Fire Department, was appointed as a Special Police Officer assigned to “prevent pedlar and transient merchants from trading and transacting business on the levee.”
In the late night hours of April 27, 1858, Special Police Officer George C. Chapman was hailed by a clothing store owner whose business had been burglarized. Chapman remained on scene, while the store owner summoned additional police officers. At the store, Chapman confronted a suspect who shot Chapman in the neck. The suspect fled the scene. Nearby witnesses responded to find Chapman on the ground wounded. One witness, a medical doctor, immediately pronounced Chapman dead.
The coroner’s inquest concluded, “We, the undersigned jurors, do find that George Chapman came to his death on the night of the 27th of April, 1858, in the city of Sacramento, from the effects of pistol ball discharged by an unknown man, supposed to be a robber.”
On April 29, 1858, a public funeral was held at Engine Company #2. Chapman, who was unmarried, was buried at the Sacramento City Cemetery.
Despite a reward offered totaling $1000, Chapman’s murderer was not caught.