Killings by Officer James Albert Hale, Jr.

    Location: Birmingham, Alabama

    Year: 1943 – 1950

    Officer James Albert Hale, Jr. was involved in the deaths of five African American men in the span of less than eight years, from 1943-1950.

    In two of the five cases, the victims were armed with guns, and according to reports in the white press, dangerous. In two other cases, Hale and his partners claimed that the victims were armed with guns, but there were no corroborating witness accounts. In the fifth case, the victim was by all accounts unarmed and fleeing. Each killing was deemed a “justifiable homicide” by the Jefferson County Coroner’s office.

    It does not appear that Hale was ever disciplined in relation to any of these incidents. He was, however, docked a day’s pay in 1960 for wearing overalls to work.

    Hale was first approved as a patrolman to the Birmingham Police Department on September 14, 1940. While still a beat cop in 1948, he was tasked with transporting Idaho Senator Glen Taylor, a famous anti-segregationist, to jail for entering a building through a door marked for black people. In May of 1949, Hale was indicted on charges of assault and battery for beating a white woman with a rubber hose. Five months later, those charges were dropped because the complaining witness listed him as “Jimmie Hale,” rather than “James Hale,” on the warrant.

    Hale went on to receive a promotion from patrolman to Detective in 1951, and he worked in the vice department. On May 22, 1961, he was promoted to Sergeant. Hale died in 1983.

    1943Knox Fail

    1946 – Harrison Lee

    1948 – John Johnson

    1948 – Theris Rudolph Wood

    1950Eugene Burt

    A set of documents pertinent to this case are included here. These are a sample of a full set of documents available by special inquiry to CRRJ.

    • Atlanta Daily World (Jan 11, 1944) (PDF below)
    • Birmingham World (Apr 2, 1948) (PDF below)
    • Birmingham World (Dec 14, 1948) (PDF below)
    • Birmingham World (Mar 28, 1950) (PDF below)

    “Man Killed In Running Gun Battle with Police”, Atlanta Daily World, Page 2 (Jan 11, 1944)


    “2nd Negro Killed By Police Here Within 3 Days”, Birmingham World, Page 1 (Apr 2, 1948)


    “Birmingham Police Slay 11th Negro; Charge Prowling”, Birmingham World, Page 1 (Dec 14, 1948)


    “Three Birmingham Police Slayings”, Birmingham World, Page 6 (Mar 28, 1950)


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