|Shooting of John Papino
St. Augustine Florida
St Augustine Evening Record Oct 31, 1902
Marshal Benet Shoots a City Councilman
John Papino Colored, Painfully Wounded.
A Wild Scene of Excitement and Confusion Follows
The Wounded Man Rushes Bleeding and Screaming through the Streets
Benet Gives Himself Up
Without a word of warning and with nothing on the surface to indicate the cause of his act according
to the testimony of those present, Marshal Charles Benet drew a revolver at a meeting of the City
Council last night and shot Alderman John Papino.
Immediately the room was in an uproar and several of the members of the Council made a hasty exit
from the chamber fearing, perhaps, other shots might be directed at them. Others remained and
Alderman Blanchard assisted the wounded man from the room. Meanwhile Papino was making a
great outcry and went screaming through St. Georges street leaving a trail of blood behind him until he
finally met a carriage which conveyed him to his home.
The news of the shooting quickly spread and the streets were soon filled with excited people.
Meantime the marshal was taken in hand by friends, and taking their advice he drove to the county
jail and placed himself in the custody of Sheriff Perry.
Doctors Roberts and Rainey were called in to attend to Papino who by this time had lost a great
quality of blood. It was ascertained th the ball a thirty-eight calibre cartridge had entered his right
cheek and passing downward lodged in the side of his face. An effort to locate it failed. Both doctors
say that the wound is not fatal nd unless complications set in Papino will recover.
How it affected the Council
To say that the sudden onslaught of the infuriated Marshall created a sensation would be putting it
mildly. While Papino was dodging to escape the bullets, Alderman Center is said to have made
record time to the door. He was followed by Alderman Pacetti who suddenly remembered an
important engagement at a union meeting. Clerk Carrera devoutly crossed himself and executed a
rapid descent to the street. President-elect McBride remained perfectly still, not knowing whether or
not the marshal would turn his batteries on Him. He stayed here until someone asked him for a match
and then he too skedaddled.
Cause of the Difficulty
While it is said that bad blood existed between the Marshal and the Alderman, the immediate cause
of the difficulty arose out of a dispute regarding the following communication, which the Marshal had
sent to the Council:
I beg leave to report to your honorable body that the police force is in need of four new uniforms,
which will cost about $15 a piece. I therefore beg your honorable body to allow each one of the
police force that amount for the purchase of new uniforms. Respectfully C H Benet
Alderman Papino protested against the allowance, and on getting up the second time to speak was
interrupted by the Marshal; a moment later the shot was fired.
Alderman McBride made the following statement:
I was seated in the presidents chair facing both the marshal and Alderman Papino when the affair
occurred. A communication had been read by the clerk regarding the purchase of uniforms for the
police, and the Marshall asked and was granted permission to speak on the subject. He said what he
had to say without interruption, and then Alderman Papino spoke. Alderman Capella then said a few
words, when Alderman Papino again rose and began to speak. Marshal Benet interrupted him telling
him to shut up. This he repeated twice. Alderman Papino then told the marshal that he would not shut
up as he had a right to speak and that the latter was simply a sergant-at arms and had no right to tell
him to shut up. At this juncture the marshal rose from his chair, drew his revolver and fired at Papino
as the latter crouched behind his desk to avoid the shot. He then advanced around the desk and
continued to snap his pistol at the prostrate man. I heard no words of abuse passed on either side
except that the marshal ordered Papino to shut up.
Alderman Center and Blanchard corroborate the statement of Alderman McBride in every particular
Not under arrest
One of the peculiar features of this case is the fact that there has yet been no warrant issued for the
arrest of the Marshal; he has not been suspended, and really, no official action has been taken. He
voluntarily gave himself up to the Sheriff, but unless some steps are taken to bring a charge against
him, the Sheriff will refuse to hold him after a reasonable time.
Nov 1 1902
Benet Is Now at Liberty on Bail
Judge Mackey accepts a $1000 bond
His hearing set to be heard on November 8
Papino Getting along well- his temperature normal his physicians expect him to recover
City Marshal Charles H. Benet who is charged with having shot and painfully wounded Alderman
John Papino in the City Council chamber on Thursday night, and has since been in custody on his
own volition, was made a legal prisoner last night, as a warrant was sworn out charing him with
assault with intent to kill.
This morning accompanied by his counsel, Albert H Mickler, Benet appeared at Justice Mackey's
court and was admitted to bail in the sum of $1000 to appear at a hearing to be held on Nov 8. Bail
was very promptly furbished. Messrs. B Genovar and Barnard Masters being his bondsmen.
Mr. Benet appeared cool and collected. He has been instructed by his counsel to say nothing for
publication and will not talk about the case.
Dr. J K Ralney, who is one of the physicians in attendance upon the wounded man, said today to a
Record representative that Papino was doing very nicely, and unless inflammation set in he would
When I saw him this morning, said the doctor, he was resting easy and his temperature was normal,
with no indication of fever. I do not mean by this that he is out of danger, as inflammation may yet set
in which my be fatal; but from his present condition there is little to fear
The Marshall Suspended
The application for admission to bail was quietly made, and Mayor Boyce was unaware that the
Marshal had been released, until after dinner. The Mayor immediately made out a notice suspending
him from duty.
Preferred Against Marshal Benet
They Will be Heard November 15
Attorney MacWilliams Will Represent the Defendant
Formal charges were brought against Marshal C H Benet by Mayor Boyce at the meeting of the City
Council last night. The Mayor was present when the charges and notice of suspension was read, and
was accompanied by his attorney, J. W Henderson. Marshal Benet was also on hand represented by
W. A MacWilliams who will also act as his attorney in the forthcoming trial.
The charges are as follows:
As the Mayor of the city of St Augustine, and in compliance with the provisions of the law of the
State of Florida under which the government of our city is either directly or indirectly guided in the
action of each and every official of our municipality, I respectfully report that on the 1st day of Nov
ad 1902 I suspended City Marshal C H Benet. My reasons therefor are as follows
First, that at the adjourned meeting of the City Council; to wit on the 30 day of October A D 1902
the said C H Benet when present under the law at said meeting, to aid in the enforcement and
preservation of order under the direction of the presiding officer of said meeting did grossly abuse his
official position by conduct unbecoming an officer and a conservator of the peace in that he said Ch
Benet was himself guilty of rude violent and disorderly conduct and as a result the dispersion of the
members present at said session and the breaking up of said meeting.
Second that said CH Benet did then and there at said meeting of the City Council on Oct 30 AD
1902 commit an assault with a deadly weapon upon the person of one of the alderman of said city of
St Augustine - namely Alderman John Papino while in the discharge of his duties as a member of the
City Council of said city of St. Augustine and at the time said City Council was in lawful session, by
shooting said John Papino with a pistol,.
Benet's Counsel Make a Statement
His Reasons for the Shooting are Given
Self Defense will be the Plea Entered in his Behalf
Papino is alleged to have been advancing upon Benet with his hand on his hip pocket
Owing to the fact that the hearing in the case of Officer Benet who is charged with assaulting
Alderman John Papino, has been postponed through no fault of ours. It deprives of for the time being
of letting the public know the defendant's side of the case; and in order that the public may know that
he has a good defense and to relieve our client of the unjustice of having but one side of the story
made public we desire to state the following facts:
The trouble arose during a meeting of the City Council, over an application made to the Council in
writing by Officer Benet for an appropriation for the purchase of four uniforms with it has been
customary for the Council to grant.
All matters pertaining to the police force have been opposed by Alderman Papino solely on account
of the personal ill will he bears toward Marshal Benet, which whom he has been at odds for some
When Mr. Benet rose on permission of the Council to explain that the uniforms would not cost less
that $15 and stated that the coat he had on cost 11.50 Alderman Papino interrupted him and
intimated that the coat did not cost that much thereby intimating and imputing dishonesty on the part
of the Marshal, and the Marshal so construed it.
He continued to make offensive objections and finally the Marshal told him to stop it. Thereupon he
told the Marshal to shut up and sit down, that he was his superior and he the Marshal was his servant.
He also cursed at the Marshal The Marshal again told him to desist. Both became excited. Papino
was standing back from his desk and throwing his hand to his hip pocket and advanced toward the
Marshal in an attitude that indicated his intention to do him bodily harm
The Marshal knowing Papino's feelings toward him and presuming that he intended to assault him
drew his pistol and fired. These facts can be demonstrated and proved by reputable witnesses who
were present and saw the affair.
(Marshal Benet was never convicted. Councilman Papino outlived him.
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