Families of fallen SPD officers waiting for Medals of Honor

by: David Ham Updated:


It's been 15 years since Seattle police held a ceremony to give out 40 Medals of Honor to families of officers who died in the line of duty.

There are still 30 families that are still without the medal awarded to their loved one.

Gerald Miles is one of them.

His grandfather, Officer William Henry Cunliffe, died in 1911 when he was shot trying to catch burglary suspects at the intersection of Columbia and Summit.

"He approached one individual and there was a second individual, put a round into his left side and subsequently he died from that," said Miles, who lives in Gig Harbor.

He said that he would have went to the ceremony to honor his grandfather in 1998, only he never knew about it.

"I understand the turmoil in an organization what I don't understand when they knew about it that they didn't come forward and do something. That's the disappointment," said Miles.

Officer Michael Severance has been a Seattle police officer for 45 years.

When found out many families were never contacted and never received the medal, he started compiling a list of surviving family members and their contact information.

"It's not rocket science to call these people and if they don't believe the documentation I submitted it certainly wouldn't take more than a birth certificate to prove who they are," said Severance.

He made a list of 24 of the 30 families and gave it to the Seattle Police Department in July.

None of the families were contacted.

A spokesperson for Seattle police said that Chief Jim Pugel is working on getting the medals to the families; however there was no timeline as to when it will happen.

"It probably is the most disgraceful thing I've seen in my career," said Severance.

He's still researching to find more families that don't know their loved one was awarded the Medal of Honor.

"The sacrifices made by the officers and the sacrifices made by their families are just being ignored," said Severance.