The Horrific Death of Howard Efland – March 9, 1969: LAPD Savagely Beats Gay Man to Death During Los Angeles Hotel Raid


Howard Efland beaten to death at the Dover Hotel March 9. 1969

*I repost this story every year on the Anniversary of one o the most tragic and brutal murders of a gay man in our recorded history that happened in Los Angeles, CA in 1969 as a reminder of our past and what life was like for those in our community at a time when we were considered leas than human and lived in the shadows and in fear. – W.K.

March 9, 1969: 

The Dover Hotel was a five-story brick building in downtown Los Angeles.  The hotel operated as an early version of the soon to become popular bathhouse scene.  Gay men checked in, removed their clothing, and laid on their beds with the doors ajar waiting for others to walk by in the hopes of meeting someone.

The Dover hotel not surprisingly, the scene of a number of raids by LAPD’s vice squad for the easy bust of “faggots”.

During a raid by the LAPD Vice Squad on March 9th, 1969, just 4 months shy of the Stonewall riots in NYC Howard Efland, a male nurse who checked into the hotel under the pseudonym of J. McCann.  By the end of that day Efland would be brutally beaten outside the hotel by police in front of numerous witnesses.

LA vice officers Lemuel Chauncey and Richard Halligan claimed that Efland groped them so they arrested him, dragged him naked, bleeding and screaming down a flight of stairs by his feet and into the street.  In front of several witnesses the two police officers who were well over 6’2 inches  started beating the slightly built, unarmed and unresisting gay man to death while he screamed  “Help me! My God, someone help me!”  kicking him, doing  knee drops onto his stomach, and savagely beating him.

While several witnesses claimed that Efland died at the scene. Chauncy and Halligan stated that Elfland was alive and they “threw” the body into the back of the police wagon and claimed that halfway down to the station from where they had arrested him, he kicked open the door and fell out onto the Hollywood Freeway.

The Admissions Officer who was on duty at County General Hospital testified at the Coroner’s inquest that when they received Efland , they tied him down to the bed and he was in bad shape. The Nurse testified that she went into the other room with the cop because the guy had bitten his finger. Forty minutes later while she’s still working on the cop (?) another nurse came and said ‘hey, the guy in the other room died.’

The LAPD at first informed Efland’s parents that their son had merely died of a heart attack. The L.A. County Coroner ruled Elfland’s death an “excusable homicide” and the story was withheld from the mainstream media. However the gay newspaper the Advocate picked up the story and responded strongly by calling the LAPD “psychotics” The  Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church would later lead 120 marchers in a rally to the the site of Dover to commemorate Efland’s fatal beating and murder.

“I had told my congregation over and over that our church was built on a three-prong gospel: the gospel of Christian salvation,  the gospel of Christian community and the gospel of Christian social action. Absolutely: Christian social action. We are meant to go out and bring deliverance to people. So I told them ‘I want you to come and march with me’. Perry said.

No one was ever held accountable for the murder of Howard Efland.

Two years  ago the nephew of  Howard Eflland contacted after we published his story for the first time. Being  very young when it happened he was never  told the true nature of his Uncle’s death.

Back2Stonewall has attempted to call the L.A.P.D. numerous times in the hopes of  getting an apology from the LAPD for Howard Elfland’s surviving family.

Finally, on March 2nd. 2016, we able to get in touch with the LAPD’s  Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Liaison attached to it’s Community Relations Department who has promised to look into the Efland case after 46 years and hopefully will bring some closure to the family of Howard Efland.




Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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5 Responses

  1. john a says:

    good god! they say every cloud has a silver lining but i’m still trying to think of one for this story. R.I.P. HOWARD EFLLAND.

  2. JT says:

    WTF? so hard to fathom…even still…even in that era…that horrific events like this actually transpired. never gets any easier to read the brutality. like john a. wrote, rip, howard!

  3. JT says:

    thank you, will, for bringing it to our attention…after all these years!

  4. Claudette says:

    This is disgusting. It disgust me. A lot. How, can you kill an innocent man, just because he is gay? That is rubbish, and personally I feel like you don’t have authority to kill someone just because you’re a police officer! Bullshit. And the fact that none of these L.A.P.D officers weren’t charged of anything, goes to show how bad the justice system is. I am totally and utterly disgusted. I don’t want to live in a world that is so full of hate crime. Get over yourselves, you’re not superior because of your skin colour, nor are you superior because of your jobs. Killing someone should be regarded aas the worst thing to do, especially when you do it because the man is gay, black/white/hispanic. Nothing makes you special if you think you were doing a favour by executing innocent people. Disgusting. Totally disgusting!

  1. March 9, 2014

    […] Today In Gay History: March 9, 1969 – Police Beat Gay Man to Death During Los Angeles Hotel Raid […]

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