Family of officer slain in 1924 found

By Owen Wells -

BALD KNOB, W.Va. — The W.Va. Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (ABCA) has found surviving family members of a Boone County prohibition commissioner who was killed in the line of duty.

The group contacted the Coal Valley News in early December concerning the addition of Leander M. Cook’s name to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.

To help their application for the memorial, the ABCA needed the permission of Cook’s family.

During an interview with the Coal Valley News, Gig Robinson, spokesman for the ABCA, explained Cook had been a commissioner of prohibition in Bald Knob, W.Va.

Robinson added commissioners of prohibition were in charge of enforcing the 18th amendment of the constitution whereby alcohol was made illegal.

“We came across Leaner Cook. He was a 44 year old prohibition officer. We have corroborated that he was a law enforcement officer and that he died in the line of duty,” explained Robinson.

However, Robinson noted Cook was not killed while he was enforcing prohibition.

An issue of the Madison Recorder from Nov. 21, 1924, details the story of a double killing at Pond Fork, W.Va.

The article explains that on Nov. 13, 1924, Cook and the local constable, W.E. Mays, reportedly shot and killed each other after Cook had been tasked with arresting Mays.

The article explains a warrant had been sworn out for May’s arrest after he allegedly, “arrested a woman…without a warrant and abused her.”

Mays reportedly refused to comply with Cook. The article states, “Mays objected to being arrested by Cook saying, he would go with the sheriff or deputy, but absolutely refused to submit to arrest by Cook. A deputy sheriff could not be found at once, and Cook insisted Mays come with him, when, it is said, Mays opened fire and Cook followed suit.”

Cook’s death certificate explains he died from a collapsed lung resulting from the gunshot wound.

Robinson added the blessing of Cook’s family, “Will give the application teeth…,” during review from the memorial’s officials.

By Owen Wells

Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165 ext. 1661 or by email at

Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165 ext. 1661 or by email at

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