Police officer dies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 20, 2005

First city officer to die in line of duty in 70 years

By Allison T. Williams

A Suffolk police officer who collapsed after a foot pursuit died early Saturday.

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Officer William A. Henley, 33, died at Obici Hospital at 1:07 a.m., approximately an hour after apprehending a suspect during the foot chase on Webb Street, said Lt. Debbie George, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Police Department.

An autopsy revealed that Henley died as the result of a medical condition, George said.

Henley was dispatched to the 300 block of Webb Street around 11:30 a.m. Friday to investigate a group of suspicious people, said George. Several minutes later, Henley gave chase to the suspect.

Police have charged Brian J. Ralph, 22, with misdemeanor escape and resisting arrest, George said. He was also served with an outstanding warrant for assault and battery and being a fugitive from New Jersey.

Henley, who lived in Suffolk, had been with the police department since October 2002. He is survived by his wife and four children.

In May 2004, Henley was one of several police officers recognized by Police Chief William Freeman for his noteworthy contributions to the department. Those awards go to personnel who have demonstrated service to others above and beyond the call of duty.

&uot;The department would like to express our deepest sympathy to Officer Henley’s family,&uot; George said. &uot;Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this difficult time.&uot;

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

Henley is the city’s first police officer to die in the line of duty in nearly 70 years.

In October 1935, Officer Joseph S. Pratt, a 27-year police department veteran, was shot to death while attempting to serve a warrant to a South Saratoga Street man.

According to Suffolk New-Herald archives, more than 2,500 people turned out to honor the fallen officer.