15 Law Enforcement Officers Murdered By Domestic Extremists Since the Oklahoma City Bombing
Since the Oklahoma City bombing, domestic extremists have murdered 15 law enforcement officers. Each of their deaths was a unique tragedy.
By Susy Buchanan
Massillon, Ohio, Police Department
Aug. 9, 2002
Years before he murdered Eric Taylor, Donald Matthews was an ardent Ohio "constitutionalist" who had openly expressed his hatred of police officers — a rage against government and law enforcement that he boldly stated on several occasions he would be willing to kill and die for.
Matthews, a so-called "sovereign citizen," was president of a group calling itself the National Constitutional Academy. He said he had memorized the Bible and the Constitution, and he refused to have his picture taken or put on a seat belt.
On Aug. 9, 2002, at around 8:30 p.m., Matthews was doing 72 in a 60 mph zone when a state trooper pulled him over. He refused to roll down his window more than a slight crack, and launched into a tirade on 13th Amendment rights before speeding off and leading law enforcement officers on a 12-mile chase that ended in the town of Massillon. There, Matthews' leaped out of his vehicle as it traversed a gravel pit and opened fire with a Czechoslovakian CZ-762x25 semi-automatic military handgun. Eric Taylor, a Massillon police officer who had joined a brief foot chase, was shot by Matthews in the pancreas, aorta, heart and lungs before Matthews was himself fatally wounded by other officers' fire.
Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise. Four years earlier, Matthews warned another officer who pulled him over for speeding that the next time he was stopped he would be ready to kill: "I have lived a full life and I am willing to die and will shoot any officer who attempts to take me into custody."
In court documents he filed around the same time, Matthews clearly saw himself under siege by government. Law enforcement, he wrote, "joined in coercion, intimidation, kidnapping, and conduct becoming a military occupation force, and were engaged in warfare against me." Matthews also told the owner of a local gun club that he'd kill police should he be arrested or pulled over. Two years later, he said much the same thing to an owner of a catering business.
Donald Matthews might have had enough of living, but that was surely not true of Eric Taylor. Taylor was only 31 when he was murdered, the father of a 2-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl. His life and career were ahead of him, a wealth of unrealized potential.
"I was one of the first officers in our department to officially meet Eric Taylor when I conducted his employment background investigation," writes fellow Massillon police officer Kenneth Hendricks on an Internet memorial page for Taylor. "After he was hired he fast became known for his being ornery, dedicated to the job and wanting to make a difference in the city he patrolled and lived in. He was to join our tactical unit ... the Wednesday before his death and would have been a great addition to the team."
"Eric was courageous, quick witted, and one of the fastest men on two feet I've ever seen," added officer Paul Covert. "I'd love going on high risk calls with him because if the suspect was ever stupid enough to run, Eric was going to catch him. If there was a fight, I wanted Eric to be there."