20 years ago: Beloved Dayton police officer Mary Beall dies after being shot years earlier

Credit: Skip Peterson

Credit: Skip Peterson

Editor’s Note: The shooting of Dayton police officer Mary Beall and her resolve in the years after were followed closely by the community and the Dayton Daily News in the early 2000s. It has been 20 years since Beall died from her injuries on Aug. 25, 2002. Today, we’re republishing the obituary printed on our front page the day after her death.

Mary L. Beall, a Dayton police officer, wife and mother who inspired the community with her courage after being paralyzed when she was shot on duty in 2000, died Sunday of complications from her injuries.

She was 43.

Her plight and the way she dealt with it led the community to respond with generous donations that allowed her family to build a handicap-accessible home designed to help her cope with her paralysis.

Sgt. Gary White, who heads Dayton’s homicide squad, said Sunday he would seek to determine whether the man who gunned her down on May 15, 2000, can now be charged with homicide. Her assailant, Raham Twitty, is serving 76 years in prison after being convicted by a jury of felonious assault, aggravated robbery and other charges.

Dayton Police Chief William McManus said Mrs. Beall will be buried with full department honors at the request of her husband, Dayton Police Officer John Beall.

“It’s a line-of-duty death,” McManus said. “We will have a full procession and honor guard.”

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

Mrs. Beall died around noon Sunday at Miami Valley Hospital.

She was paralyzed below the chest after Twitty stuck a .30-caliber carbine rifle against her neck and fired one shot during a confrontation on Dayton’s Kensington Drive. Mrs. Beall and her partner had responded that afternoon to reports that Twitty had fired a gun once at his girlfriend. Mrs. Beall tried to negotiate with Twitty and had put down her service revolver when Twitty fired. Mrs. Beall recovered from her injuries sufficiently to testify against Twitty in court and work through a regimen of physical therapy. She did not return to work at the police department and had remained in a wheelchair since the shooting.

McManus said the department is ready to help Mrs. Beall’s family. “I have assured them that anything they need from the Dayton Police Department from here on in to not hesitate to ask,” McManus said.

White said that “once we get a ruling from the coroner’s office, based on their determination, if they rule this a homicide, we will be meeting again with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office to see if there are . . . any other legal charges that can be filed against the criminal defendant.”

Alan D. Gabel, the attorney handling Twitty’s appeal, expressed his condolences to Mrs. Beall’s family and said it will be necessary to see what the coroner rules before further charges can be considered.

Credit: Skip Peterson

Credit: Skip Peterson

Choking with emotion, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr. said this was not a time for thinking about Mrs. Beall’s assailant.

“There’ll be plenty of time to address those issues,” Heck said.

“Right now, my concern is for her husband and children and her family and respect for their loss and time to grieve. I think for right now, my attention and the community’s attention should be on the loss of this woman,” Heck said.

“Mary Beall was the most dedicated and brave police officer and public servant. She was a devoted wife and mother who loved her husband and children, the Dayton Police Department and her community.”

“The courage and bravery that she showed at the time she was shot was only exceeded by her strength and determination to live and rebuild her life.”

Credit: Skip Peterson

Credit: Skip Peterson

With three other officers pointing guns at Twitty, Mrs. Beall had put down her handgun, knelt on Kensington Drive next to her cruiser and held up her empty hands as Twitty approached her.

After Twitty shot her in the neck, Mrs. Beall’s partner, Officer Shawn Smiley, fired nine bullets at Twitty, knocking him to the ground.

“I was at his mercy,” Mrs. Beall told the jury at Twitty’s trial. “I put my gun down. I felt if he hadn’t shot one of us by now, he wasn’t going to.

“I put my gun down. I raised my hands. I looked at Shawn at this time. I was frightened. And he shoots me.”

At Twitty’s sentencing, Mrs. Beall was provided the opportunity to address her assailant from her wheelchair.

“There was nothing there for me to hurt you,” she said to Twitty. “I tried to help you. Do you know that?

“My husband says, ‘Why didn’t you shoot him?’”

She addressed Twitty directly.

“I looked in your eyes, and you are a coward,” Mrs. Beall said more loudly.

“I was 38 years old when I joined the police department, and I had to work so hard,” Mrs. Beall said. “I was fifth in my class. And I loved my job so much.

“And I was a very independent and very strong-willed person,” Mrs. Beall said. “And I can never be alone. Never again.”

“I was brought back three times,” Mrs. Beall told Twitty. “I wish I had died. . . . but I think that’s wrong because everybody worked so hard to make me live.”

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

On May 13, Gabel told the Ohio 2nd District Court of Appeals that Twitty didn’t get a fair trail, in part, because of the emotion shown during Mrs. Beall’s testimony by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara P. Gorman.

Gabel cited Gorman’s admission of having “a little tear in the corner of my eye” during Mrs. Beall’s testimony. Gorman insisted it had nothing to do with the “facts of the case,” and reacted when Mrs. Beall talked about her family.

There were also tears Sunday as police officers remembered their fallen comrade.

“It’s a terrible time for the department,” said Lt. David Maynes, president of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police. “Even years after the occurrence, it’s still hard for the department.”

“This is just an exacerbation of the original tragedy,” McManus agreed. “The last two years, I’m certain, were hard enough on the Dayton Police Department. This just intensifies it. . . . Naturally, the Dayton Police Department will do anything it can to help the family through the worst of times.”

In May, McManus expressed the hope that Mrs. Beall would eventually be able to take a job in his office and talk to police academy recruits as well as provide in-service training for veteran officers.

“Dayton police officers, especially those who have known Mary, and have worked with her, it really, really makes them think about the job and how dangerous it is,” McManus said Sunday. “It’s very sad and such an unfortunate way to wake everybody up because we do now and then become complacent. This is certainly a wake-up call.”

The entire Dayton Community also embraced the Bealls and their three young children: Vanessa, Ian and Maddie. In May 2001, Mary and John Beall thanked the community for the donations that allowed them to build a 4,100-square-feet home that included wheelchair ramps and other features to give her maximum mobility and independence.

In a full-page ad in the Dayton Daily News, Mary Beall dubbed Dayton “a city of angels.”

Sandy Mendelson, owner of Mendelson’s Liquidation Outlet, started the fund for the home.

“I just hope the community realizes that for the past year and a half it (the home) gave her some dignity and a chance to live,” Mendelson said. “And she was a fighter. She really fought hard and I’m sorry to see it happen, but she was suffering so, so, so much. She probably had 15 operations last year and I figure there’s only so much one person can suffer.”

“I hope she’s at peace with God.”

Credit: Jan Underwood

Credit: Jan Underwood


May 15, 2000: Raham Twitty, 21, of Dayton is shot and wounded by police after shooting and paralyzing Police Officer Mary Beall.

May 23, 2000: Raham is indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury on three counts of felonious assault, including two alleging assaults on police officers, two counts of aggravated robbery, carrying a concealed weapon endangering a child, failure to comply with the order of a police officer and having a weapon while under indictment.

Aug. 29, 2000: Beall is released from Miami Valley Hospital after three months.

Feb. 13, 2001: Beall testifies at Twitty’s trial.

Feb. 14, 2001: Twitty is convicted and sentenced by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara P. Gorman to 76 years in prison.

May 2001: Mary Beall and her family move into a house built from a campaign that raised $337,128.

Aug. 25, 2002: Mary Beall dies at age 43.