On July 1, 1926, Council for the Village of Mentor passed an ordinance which would provide a law enforcement officer for the village. This officer would be called a deputy marshal and his main function would be traffic enforcement. The only requirement was the officer must be a village resident.
The young man they selected was 21 year old Lawrence R. Yaxley. Lawrence lived in Willoughby at the site of the old Willoughby Winery on Erie Rd. After his appointment, Lawrence moved to Mentor and resided with William Dietrick’s family on Center St, south of Johnnycake Ridge.
Lawrence was sworn into office by then Mayor and Town Marshal, James Locher. Lawrence was given a blue uniform and gold badges with the number one on them.
The village did not own a police vehicle at the time, requiring Deputy Yaxley to use his own. During the time of his employment, he used two different vehicles, a blue 1926 Buick coupe and a 1925 Indian motorcycle.
On Sunday, January 30, 1927, at 11:00 am, just six months after he became an officer, Deputy Yaxley was sent to street car stop #58 (Mentor Ave. at Garfield Rd.) to cover a sewer manhole.
Upon arrival, Deputy Yaxley observed the cover was broken by a large solid tired truck using Mentor Ave. As a temporary fix, the Deputy decided to place the broken pieces back over the sewer until it could be replaced or repaired. The Deputy bent down over the sewer at which time his service weapon fell from the holster into the sewer. The weapon hit the bottom of the sewer, causing it to discharge a round into the air, hitting Deputy Yaxley in the left temple.
A Mrs. Wrapby, observed the accident and held Deputy Yaxley from falling into the sewer until help arrived. Deputy Yaxley was transported to Lake County Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Lawrence Yaxley was laid to rest in the Village Cemetery.
Lawrence R. Yaxley’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Panel 39, E -19.