Medal of Valor Richard Albee November 13, 1974

“I was looking down the barrel of the gun and it was pointed directly at me. All I could see was the muzzle and the cylinder. I couldn’t see the barrel. That’s how directly it was pointed at me. I yelled, ‘Look out!’ and I backed up. That’s when I heard the shot that killed Larry.” Officer Rick Albee
Retired RPD lieutenant Richard Albee

There was nothing extraordinary about Wednesday, November 13, 1974 at the Riverside Municipal Courthouse at the northeast corner of 10th and Orange Streets in downtown Riverside. Officers from numerous agencies mingled with victims, suspects and witnesses in the hallways of the three-story courthouse waiting for their cases to be called.

Among those in the courthouse that day were Detective Jerry Knoffloch and Sergeant Ben Castleberry. While waiting in a hallway they were contacted by Sandra Osborne who was there with her husband Johnnie who had a court appearance scheduled. They told the officers that Sandra’s ex-boyfriend, Gerald Monroe, was in the courthouse and had threatened them with a knife. Detective Knoffloch located and searched Monroe but didn’t find a knife in his possession. At 9:30 am Sergeant Castleberry called dispatch and requested a unit to handle the call.

Detective Jerry Knoffloch and Sergeant Ben Castleberry

Motor Officer Rick Albee happened to be in front of the courthouse when the call came out and was assigned the call. Motor Officer Larry Walters volunteered to back him up. The officers interviewed each of the parties and resolved the situation by telling Monroe to leave the courthouse since he had no business there that day. Monroe told the officers that he had arrived at the courthouse on foot after riding a bus from from his home to downtown Riverside. Officer Walters left the courthouse while Albee remained behind finishing his conversation with the Osbornes.

At 10:08 am, just as Officer Albee was leaving the courthouse, Officer Walters contacted him via the police radio and told him that he had stopped Monroe at 9th and Lime for a traffic violation.

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What Officer Walters didn’t know was that Monroe, 32, had a criminal history dating back to his 16th birthday. After receiving a dishonorable discharge from the Army for theft and assaulting an officer in 1961, he spent the next 10 years committing crimes and was arrested multiple times for forgery, GTA, burglary and possession of a deadly weapon. Monroe was arrested by LAPD in 1970 and charged with three counts of armed robbery. Admitting to some 40 robberies, Monroe pled guilty to one and was sentenced to a term of five years to life.

While serving his time at the California State Prison in Chino, one evaluation described Monroe as “hostile, cold, dispassionate and ready to explode.”

In spite of his extensive criminal history and obvious danger to society if released, Monroe was paroled in January 1974 after serving less than five years.

Albee grabbed the door and the two of them struggled back and forth, Albee trying to wrench the door open and Monroe pulling it shut. Monroe reached down and started the car but it immediately stalled.

Officer Albee wrapped his arm around Monroe’s neck and attempted to pull him from the vehicle while Officer Walters, standing closer to the front of the vehicle, reached through the open window and attempted to remove the keys from the ignition.

Suddenly, Monroe reached under his seat.

Officer Albee began moving toward the rear of the Pinto when he simultaneously heard a shot. Officer Walters fell to the ground at the left front of the Pinto gravely wounded with a through-and-through gunshot to his head.

When Albee turned back toward Monroe, Monroe was partially out of his vehicle and was pointing his gun directly at Albee.

“I thought Larry had dove towards the front of the car and was taking cover,” Albee said. I had Larry in a crossfire.” To avoid hitting his partner and friend, Officer Albee fired two shots into the rear window of the Pinto missing Monroe.

Monroe's Ford Pinto during forensic examination of bullet trajectories.

“I knew I missed Monroe, but he ducked,” Albee recalled. I started working my way around the back of the car to the passenger side. I was using cover fire like we did in the military.”

Albee fired an additional 12 rounds into the Pinto as he moved toward the passenger side of the vehicle.

Albee reloaded his Smith and Wesson Model 59 9mm handgun. “As it happens the last round from the magazine had chambered and when I reached down and put in a fresh magazine, I had a full load,” Albee said. Albee looked into the Pinto and saw Monroe seated in the driver’s seat with his arm extended across the passenger seat aiming his gun directly at him."

Albee ran to the back of the Pinto and reassessed the scene. Monroe fell out of the car onto the street and his gun fell 3-4 feet from his outstretched hand. At 10:11 am, just three minutes after the stop had been made, Officer Albee called for an ambulance for Monroe.

“He was spread-eagle on the ground and the gun had scooted away from his hand,” Albee remembered. “I put out the call, ‘Motor 26, give me Goodhew code-3. Suspect has been shot.’”

After calling for help for Monroe, Albee looked back and saw that Monroe was now on his hands and knees and had crawled to his gun.

“He picked it up on his hands and knees and turned and aimed it at me,” Albee said. I reached across the windshield of my motorcycle and I pulled a couple of more rounds off intentionally aiming low because the bullet will scoot across the ground.”

Albee’s rounds struck Monroe two more times.

Believing Monroe was seriously wounded and incapacitated, Albee moved forward to render first aid. When he advanced past the open driver’s door he saw Officer Walters on the ground at the front of Monroe's vehicle.

“It was the first time I knew Larry had been hit,” Albee recalled through tears. “That shook me up. I ran back to the bike and put out the call, ‘Officer’s been shot!’ All I heard after that was the dispatcher go 11-99.”

As officers rushed to the scene, Albee’s life-or-death struggle with Monroe was not over.

“I looked back at Monroe and for the second time he had gotten up on his hands and knees and crawled toward the gun,” Albee said.

Albee saw that Monroe was moving slowly and that he could get to him before before he could get his gun back on target. Albee ran toward Monroe and kicked the gun from his hand and it clattered across Lime Street.

Albee ran to Walters and held his head in his lap while holding a handkerchief to his head wound.

“I held Larry’s heading my lap and was applying pressure to the right side of his head,” Albee said. “I thought it was a scalp wound because he was breathing and his vitals were good.”

But everything was not good. It was 10:12 when the first back-up units began to arrive. Officer Ron Adams began performing CPR on Officer Walters. Officer Joe Rubio handcuffed Monroe.

The ambulance crew arrived and Walters was placed onto the gurney and loaded into the ambulance while Adams continued to administer CPR. One of the attendants then said they were going to place Monroe into the same ambulance.

“Vince Nye most emphatically advised him that this was the police officer’s ambulance and that Gerald Monroe, in fact, was not going to be loaded onto this ambulance with this police officer, “Adams said.

Officer Larry Eugene Walters died enroute to Riverside Community Hospital.

Officer Albee was driven to the station by Officer Jesse Scott where he was interviewed by Detective Jerry Monahan who informed Albee that Monroe was dead.

“Somebody came in and said something to Jerry,” Albee said, “and he looked at me and said, ‘Monroe’s dead. You killed him.’”

Albee responded, “That’s what I was trying to do. I was fighting for my life and, at the time, I thought for Larry’s.”

A few minutes later Albee was informed that Officer Walters had died.

As Rick Albee sat in the living room of his Riverside home on November 14, 2006 talking about the loss of his good friend and partner Larry Walters he said, “I like to think that I couldn’t have done anything more but I’ve always regretted not being able to save his life. But I know that first shot went off, that ended Larry’s life. He shot four more times at me and missed. When they recovered his weapon there was a .38 round still in the chamber with the primer dented probably several times and it never went off. God was watching me.”

Rick Albee was awarded the RPD’s first Medal of Valor in August 1975. He was also recognized for valor by the California Attorney General’s office.

Rick Albee retired in 1994 as a lieutenant and at the time of his death in June 2016 was involved with the Badges ministry at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Walk Worthy, an on-line Christian ministry.

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