Officer Ward Canfield died of pneumonia which he contracted due to gunshot wounds he received on August 17, 1957.

The Hennepin County, Minnesota coroner ruled his death a homicide due to the gunshot wounds.

On the day of the incident, Officer Canfield and his partner, Officer Robert Fossum, began chasing a stolen car, not knowing that the three occupants were en route to rob a local market. During the chase the suspects began firing at the officers’ squad car, before crashing. As the officers approached, the suspects opened fire again, striking Officer Fossum in the head, killing him.

As the suspects attempted to escape, they also shot Officer Canfield before striking him with their vehicle and dragging him approximately 30 feet. The suspects, all brothers, were able to elude authorities for 28 days before they were located. Two of the suspects were shot and killed in a shootout with police, and the third suspect committed suicide in jail in 1958.

Officer Canfield was forced to retire due to his injuries in 1960 and was confined to a wheelchair and his bed. His injuries required him to have 97 blood transfusions and over 100 surgeries.

He had served with the Minneapolis Police Department for 12 years at the time of the incident.