Traffic officers Ernest McCluskey, Andy Clark and Clarence Pickett (left to right).

Madera’s first murder of a police officer

On November 10, 1923, Clarence Pickett (far right) became Madera’s first police officer to die in the line of duty. Spotting a Dodge coupe with four men in it traveling north toward Berenda, Pickett pulled the car to the side, He had recognized it as a coupe that had been reported stolen. The lawman got off his motorcycle and walked to the rear of the car. As he was checking the identification papers of the driver, Walter Yeager, he shot Pickett and killed him. The killers were later caught and tried in Judge Conley’s court in Madera. Yeager was given the death sentence, and Terry received a life sentence. On Friday morning, January 9, 1925, Yeager climbed the steps of the gallows in San Quentin Prison and, with no sign of contrition, paid for his crime. Among those in attendance at his hanging was Sheriff John Barnett. Although he didn’t get to see the condemned killer squirm, he was content with the knowledge that Yeager paid for his wanton act with his own life. Shown here with Pickett are traffic officers Ernest McCluskey (left) and Andy Clark (center). (Madera Images; Bill Coate)

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