On July 18, 1940, Motorcycle officers Leo Cunningham and Calvin N. Clayton attempted to apprehend a speeding motorist. That endeavor cost Cunningham his life.
Clayton reported that they rode their motorcycles in pursuit of the motorist eastbound on East 14th Street from 54th Avenue. Cunningham was in the lead when his front wheel struck a “traffic button” in the roadway. He and his motorcycle were thrown an estimated 135 feet. When Clayton reached the stricken officer to give aid, Cunningham was pinned by the still running motorcycle.
Cunningham died 30 minutes later at Merritt Hospital of severe head and internal injuries. He had joined the Oakland Police Department on May 11, 1938, and was assigned to the Traffic Division on January 3, 1939. He was survived by his wife.