Why did Lawrence Police Officer William Garrett shoot and kill Rick “Tiger” Dowdell on July 16, 1970? The 263 relevant pages of a Kansas Bureau of Investigation file into one of Lawrence’s longstanding mysteries do little to help answer questions that have been raised over the last 52 years. But with the help of newly obtained investigative documents, Lawrence Times reporter Conner Mitchell has shed a bit more light on the case in this extended series.
We are very grateful for the Dowdell family’s trust and support of our push to obtain the records in this case.
We also sincerely thank our subscribers for making this series possible. We couldn’t do this without you. This kind of intensive research and storytelling takes a lot of time, and these kinds of records are expensive to pursue.
If you believe journalism like this is important for Lawrence and Douglas County, please support us with a paid subscription to the Times.
“We could’ve killed him, gone home and had dinner. That’s how strong the hate was,” Sakeim Dowdell recalled, 52 years after a Lawrence police officer shot and killed his younger brother, Rick “Tiger” Dowdell.
All told, Tiger Dowdell’s murder — at the hands of a police department that had threatened to kill him shortly before his death, his grandmother told the KBI — drastically changed the fabric of Lawrence.
A KBI case file leaves one prevailing question which may ultimately be lost to history: Why did Lawrence Police Officer William Garrett shoot and kill Rick “Tiger” Dowdell on July 16, 1970?
Make sure you don’t miss future deep-dive series:
Other related coverage:
The KBI will, at least temporarily, continue to keep in the dark records that could finally shed light on a case of police violence that has been imprinted in the fabric of Lawrence for exactly 51 years.
In the nine months since the Lawrence City Commission unanimously approved creating historical markers to memorialize two teenagers killed by Lawrence police, the conversation on what those markers might look like, where they’ll be placed, and how much they’ll cost has mostly gone silent.
Seeking the truth always matters.
Please support The Lawrence Times.