CINCINNATI (FOX19) - City and police officials are honoring the lives of two Cincinnati police officers gunned down in the line of duty 42 years ago.
A memorial street renaming ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday for Officers Dennis Bennington and Robert Seiffert.
It will take place on the corner of Oak and May streets in Walnut Hills, where a new street sign will be unveiled, Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman’s office announced Thursday.
The vice mayor will attend with Police Chief Eliot Isaac and Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Director Bill Beuke.
They will be joined by family and friends of the officers.
Officers Bennington, 27, and Seiffert, 31, both served the Cincinnati Police Department for over eight years.
They made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve the city during a March 6, 1979, traffic stop as they tried to apprehend a street robbery suspect on Oak Street near May Street, according to an account of the incident on the museum’s website.
Officers Bennington and Seiffert were members of CPD’s Robbery Task Force. In December 1978, they sought a street robbery suspect named Gregory Daniels, who had been arrested on a multitude of prior felony offenses.
Daniels, however, eluded authorities - but both officers never forgot, the museum’s website says.
Months later, on March 6, 1979, at 1 a.m., Officer Seiffert saw a car driven by a man he believed was Daniels. On a car-to-car radio channel, he contacted Officer Bennington, according to the museum:
Seiffert: Do you know this guy on sight?
Seiffert: I’m going to stop him at Oak and May Streets.
Bennington: Okay, I’ll be there in a second.
Police surmise that Officer Seiffert pulled Daniels, over on westbound Oak Street west of May Street. Both Daniels and Officer Seiffert got out of their vehicles and Officer Seiffert asked for his identification.
Daniels said it was in the car and reached into it just as Officer Bennington arrived eastbound on Oak Street, stopped directly across the street from the car, and got out of his car shortly after 1 a.m.
The suspect shot Officer Bennington in the chest and then fired over his shoulder at Officer Seiffert, who dove behind Daniels’ car to try to get out of the way but was still struck in the head. Officer Seiffert’s head also hit the curb, breaking his neck.
Though mortally wounded, Officer Bennington got up and drew his revolver, but Daniels shot him again, this time in the shoulder.
As Daniels pulled away, Officer Bennington fired several shots, striking Daniels in the head and killing him instantly.
With Daniels’ lifeless foot on the accelerator, the car sped into a steel utility pole near Reading Road.
A passenger, Sharon Johnson, was pinned in the car and suffered wrist and hand injuries and a slight wound to her head from a bullet fragment.
Earlier this year, State Rep. Cindy Abrams announced House Bill 180 would rename a stretch of Interstate 71 in downtown Cincinnati the “Officers Dennis Bennington and Robert Seiffert Memorial Highway.”
Officer Bennington’s daughter, Tina Bennington Sansone, reached out to Abrams with the idea for a memorial highway.