Fallen TPD officer honored on 80th anniversary of death

Hillsborough County
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TAMPA (WFLA) – Members of the Tampa Police Department remembered one of their own Tuesday, 80 years after he was killed in the line of duty.

Tampa Police Detective Joe Nance was assigned to the homicide squad. He was on his way to Lakeland to conduct an interview with a witness in a case when he was involved in a car crash. Police say a truck forced his vehicle off of the road.

Detective Nance was seriously injured and taken to the hospital. He died on Oct. 1, 1939. He was the first African-American officer from the Tampa Police Department to die in the line of duty.

8 On Your Side spoke with retired Tampa Police Sergeant Rufus Lewis. He joined the force years after Nance died but says as a black man, he can only imagine what it must have been like to be an officer during segregation.

“If he went through some of the things I went through, it had to be horrible,” Lewis said. “We sacrificed and we did a lot of things to make it possible for the next generation.”

Detective Nance was 57 years old. He had been with the Tampa Police Department for 18 years and had countless friends in the community.

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