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Sergeant William Prochazka Case Summary Det. Sgt. William Prochazka
was brutally killed in the line of duty
Sergeant William Prochazka
A Life Well Led
Prochazka and his twin brother were the youngest of nine
parents had immigrated to the United States in hopes of
a better life. They were poor but proud and life was
They kept their faith and worked hard and all nine of the
of the Prochazka children grew to adult hood, earned an
education, and were aware of their good fortune in having
in America. William and his brother learned from their
parents how important it was to help others. Both William
brother decided the become police officers.
Detective Sergeant William Prochazka always believed in
helping those in need. Prior to becoming a police officer
he worked at a gasoline station. When the station owner suffered
a heart attack Det. Sgt. Prochazka worked at the station
without pay to help his boss. When someone stole the tools
from the service station Det. Sgt. Prochazka gave the service
station owner a set he had just bought. He could often be
found helping his neighbors, often assisting them in getting
their cars started or unstuck after a heavy snow.
Det. Sgt. Prochazka’s
desire to help others carried forward to his police work.
He was well respected by both
the community and by his fellow officers. He also had an
amazing ability to help troubled youths. He was so successful
at it that in 1971 he was named head of the newly created
On Sunday November 9, 1975
Det. Sgt. Prochazka was looking forward to spending the
Thanksgiving holiday with his wife
and four children, Brian, age 6, Bobby, age 9, Bill Jr.,
age 14, and daughter Laurel age 17. That evening, while playing
a board game with his wife and two of his sons, Det. Sgt.
Prochazka talked about taking a vacation day the following
day to do some work around the house. Mrs. Prochazka knew
he would not because of how committed he was to his
work. She never could have imagined that decision would cost
Det. Sgt. Prochazka his life.
A Cold Blooded Execution
On Monday November 10, 1975, at around 1:30 PM Det. Sgt.
Prochazka and his partner, Detective James Toth, were cruising
near the Southgate Shopping Center. Officer Prochazka advised
his partner he needed to drop by Blonder's Paint Store to
show employees mug shots that he had just received from The
FBI. About five weeks earlier several men tried to rob the
store and Officer Prochazka hoped employees could make photo
identification. Officer Toth said he would stop in the dry
cleaning store next door while Officer Prochazka was in the
When Detective Prochazka entered the store he saw no one
in the main area that was separated from the back room by
a leather door. He had no idea that a few minutes earlier
three men had stormed the paint store and ordered the six
customers and five employees into a rear washroom. The men
were all armed, two with guns and the third with a sawed
off shotgun. One robber had already cleaned out the cash
register and another was trying to break open a cash box
in the back room of the store when Det. Prochazka walked
in. Officer Prochazka looked around and proceeded to look
for someone in the back room. When Det. Sgt. opened the leather
door the three thugs confronted him. A single shot rang out
and Det. Sgt. Prochazka fell to the floor. The three men
ran out the back door to a waiting getaway car. One of the
stores employees wrote down the license plate number on the
side of a paint carton and called police.
Farrow was one of four men convicted of killing Det.
Sgt. William Prochazka
When police arrive the found Det. Sgt. Prochazka on the
floor of the back room. He was dead. Police ran the license
plate number and trace the car back to the grandmother of
Dwain Farrow. At around 2:45PM Cleveland Patrolman Robert
Kinzett and Gary Payne spotted a vehicle fitting the description
given by witnesses. The pulled the car over and found Dwain
Farrow and Duran Harris inside. They each had a revolver
and one of them had been fired once. They did not find the
shotgun. Police arrested Harris and Farrow and it did not
take long for Farrow to implicate George Clayton and Michael
Manns. A manhunt began to find both cop killers.
While authorities were searching
for the suspects Det. Sergeant Prochazka was laid to rest
at All Saints Cemetery. Mayor
Lucille Reed said, "He was always with kids. He counseled
kids in trouble confidentially and they respected him." Police
Chief Meuti praised the officer as a good policeman. The
priest at the funeral said the Det. Sgt. Prochazka was “not
only an enforcer but a man who reached out to others.” Nods
came from the former troubled youth who came to pay their
last respects to the man who changed their lives. As the
casket was wheeled to a hearse in the wind driven snow there
was complete silence. All that could be heard was a rope
hitting a metal flagpole at the church’s entrance.
William Prochazka's name is inscribed on the National Law
Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C. panel
15, west wall, line 1.
Four Cop Killers Sentenced To Death
Become Parole Eligible
George Clayton turned himself
in to authorities ten days after Officer Prochazka’s
murder. He was also indicted for a robbery that occurred
a few weeks earlier at the Commonwealth
Lumber Company. Duran Harris was also charged in that robbery.
While police continued to search
for Manns juries tried all three other men. Thanks to the
witness in the store and
Farrow's statements all men were easily found guilty.
Duran Harris, the getaway driver was convicted first.
Next was Dwain Farrow. Police offered Farrow a plea deal,
which would have spared him the death penalty. Farrow refused
the offer. He also claimed he did not have a gun, which witness
at the paint store said was a lie. They told jurors that
Farrow was the one who herded them into the bathroom at gunpoint.
Prochazka's wife shows his children a plaque honoring
Det. Sgt. Prochazka
Clayton was also convicted
of the robbery and killing Det. Sgt. Prochazka. Clayton
told police he was in the paint store
and knew Det. Sgt. Prochazka was a policeman. He blamed the
shooting on Michael Manns who was still on the run and not
there to defend himself. According to Clayton, Manns said
he shot Det. Sgt. Prochazka because he knew Sgt. Det. Prochazka
could identify him. Clayton said he heard a gunshot and turned
to see Manns standing over Det. Sgt. Prochazka with a smoking
gun. Asst. Prosecutor Charles Laurie was not convinced.
In closing arguments he stated, “I’m not so sure
that it wasn't Clayton himself that did the shooting.
Both he and Manns were armed, both right beside Prochazka
when he was shot. We only have Clayton’s word that
it was Manns.”
Manns remained on the run for ten months until authorities
found him in Detroit Michigan. Mann took the stand at his
trial and denied planning the robbery and his role as the
triggerman. Based on the overwhelming evidence the jury saw
right through him and found him guilty of the robbery and
the murder of Det. Sgt. William Prochazka.
Michael Manns, Dwain Farrow,
George Clayton and Duran Harris received the death penalty
for their hideous crimes. However,
due to the uncertainty of constitutional rights of the death
penalty, all four of their sentences were overturned and
they were given life in prison. Manns, Farrow and Clayton
remain in prison. Harris was released from prison in 2003.
The family of William Prochazka was not informed of this
parole hearing and thus was unable to oppose Harris’ parole.
Michael Manns was denied parole in July 2011 and will not
be eligible for his next parole hearing until May 2021. Clayton
and Farrow are once again up for parole in May 2015 and July
A Son's Plea: No Parole
My name is Bob Prochazka and I am a Sergeant for the Willowick
Police Department. My father was Detective Sergeant William
Prochazka with the Bedford Heights, Ohio Police Department.
My mother and I will be meeting with The Ohio Parole Board
on April 17, 2015 to oppose the paroles of Dwain Farrow and
These hearings are extremely difficult for our family and
especially my mother who is now 78 years old. I think it's
totally ridiculous that we have to plead our case to keep
these inmates in prison again and again. These four individuals
are cop killers and were already given a huge break when
their sentences were commuted to life in prison. Now they
want to re-join society and enjoy the freedoms of law abiding
Please help us keep Dwain Farrow and George Clayton in prison
so they can't destroy another family's life.
Please fill out the
form below to help block this parole.
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