Fast Friday: Claude Everett Mundy

Three Police Officers Outside The Butler Street YMCA in The Early 1950s
Pictured Left to Right: Officers “Boxhead Turner, Clarence Perry and Claude E. Mundy Jr., the first Atlanta African American police officer to killed in the line of duty – Atlanta Journal Constitution Archives Georgia State University Library

For this Fast Friday we feature Claude Everett Mundy Jr., the first black Atlanta police officer to be killed in the line of duty. Officer Mundy was born in 1922 and joined the Atlanta Police Department in 1949. He was one of only 15 African American police officers to patrol the streets of Atlanta in the 1950’s, making a distinct mark on Atlanta history as a trailblazer for African American civil rights.

It was 1948 when the first African Americans in Atlanta were allowed to carry police badges by Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield. Facing a tough reelection, Hartsfield agreed to hire the officers in exchange for votes from black neighborhoods, securing his reelection. It was a small victory. The first eight black police officers hired in 1948 faced many challenges. They could not arrest white people and weren’t allowed to report to police headquarters, instead operating out of a YMCA on Butler Street in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. History Atlanta has written about these first black police officers before; read more about Atlanta’s First Eight Black Police Officers here.

While Mundy made history simply by becoming an Atlanta police officer, unfortunately he will forever be known as the first African American police officer to be killed in the line of duty in the Gate City. What happened? Mundy and a partner responded to a call regarding a burglary on January 5th, 1961 in an apartment building on Parkway Drive, NE. When Mundy and his partner arrived at the scene an apartment tenant informed the officers the suspect was leaving the rear of the two-story apartment building. Reacting quickly, Mundy entered the front door, while his partner ran around to the back door to confront the suspect.

Obviously Mundy was the first to enter the building and started knocking on doors, checking apartments and the residents. But after knocking on one particular apartment unit on the second floor, the door opened and thunderous gunfire filled the winter air. Upon hearing the gunshots Mundy’s partner ran back around to the front of the building. There he found the burglary suspect dead at the front door, along with Mundy horribly wounded inside the apartment building. Mundy would later die from his injuries.

Officer Claude Everett Mundy Jr. was 39 years old. At the time of his death he was a 12 year veteran of the Atlanta police department. He left behind a wife and five children.

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