Feb. 17, 1999 The Shelbyville Police Department regrets to inform you of the death of Officer Melvin Claxton, 53, a 19 year veteran officer. Officer Claxton was hired by the department in 1971 and served through 1988, reaching the rank of Captain. Officer Claxton left the department in 1988 and returned in 1996. Officer Claxton was an officer that was very much respected by all officers of this and other departments. Officer Claxton has trained many officer thoughout his career, many of which are still with this department.
On this date, Officer Claxton was involved in a pursuit of a jail escapee. The subject was identified as Joel Richard Schmeiderer, who was being held in the Bedford County Correctional Facility of First Degree Murder, Jail Escape, and several other felony charges. This subject did escape during the early morning hours this date. At approximately 1 pm, a call was received at the Bedford County Communications / E-911 Center, that a subject had just stolen a pickup truck from a local contractors office, and the driver attempted to run over the owner. A Bedford County Deputy Sheriff spotted the vehicle and gave pursuit. Officer Claxton met the vehicle , turned around and also gave pursuit. The subject ditched the the truck at and abandoned building and fled on foot. Deputy Billy Morris and Officer Claxton then chased the subject on foot. Assisting units from the Shelbyville Police Department, Bedford County Sheriff's Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol converged on the area and also engaged in the foot pursuit. Subject was apprehended in a nearby parking area. Officer Claxton returned to his unit and then overtaken by an apparent heart attack.
Funeral arrangments are as follows:
Visitation will be, Thursday, Feb. 18th from 7pm to 9pm. ; Friday, Feb. 19th from 2pm til 9pm. at Hillcrest Funeral Home in Shelbyville, TN.
The Funeral service will be held at the Shelbyville Mills Baptist Church in Shelbyville, TN on Saturday, Feb. 20th, 1999 at 11:00 am. Burial will follow at Willow Mount Cemetary.
This is a great loss to this department and the community. Melvin was a person that truly loved law enforcement and was always there to do whatever was needed of him. All we can say, is that Melvin died doing what he loved to do.
He will be sadly missed.