Jim Porter: Truckee CHP officer shot, killed 51 years ago | SierraSun.com

Jim Porter: Truckee CHP officer shot, killed 51 years ago


In November 2013, various local and state law enforcement gathered at the CHP Officer Glenn Carlson Memorial Bypass sign, on the side of Highway 267 near Old Brockway Road, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death.

On a snowy November night 51 years ago, seven days before John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, three men in a Cadillac sped along old Highway 40 heading toward Reno.

A few hours earlier they had robbed a Bank of America branch on Northgate Boulevard in Sacramento. They were carrying the $45,000 cash they had taken, the biggest bank heist in Sacramento history at that time.

The three criminals had met in prison. Robert Lee Burns, a parolee from Oregon for prior robbery and assault convictions, was driving.

Robert Mealman and Clifford Toycen, Jr., also parolees, had been on a recent crime spree, having held up a liquor store in Arizona and a grocery store in Bakersfield.


CHP Officer Glenn Carlson pulled the car over and gave Burns a speeding ticket. No sooner had Burns driven off, when Carlson, a five-year veteran of the Department, learned the Cadillac’s plates had been stolen off of a junk car.

Carlson radioed for help and gave chase, stopping the criminals again near Donner Lake.


Mealman, a 29-year-old career criminal from Sacramento, jumped out of the car rushing towards Carlson, armed with a Luger, firing five times and killing the 33-year-old Officer.

According to reports, one of the bullets pierced the citation Carlson had just written. All three suspects were soon arrested and pled guilty to first-degree murder. They agreed to life terms to avoid death sentences.

Burns, the driver, pled guilty to felony-murder and served five years of a life term in Folsom prison, then at his request was shipped to Oregon to finish a prison term for a prior parole violation.

Mealman and Toycen, both imprisoned in California, were paroled in the 1970s.


Officer Carlson, by all accounts a stellar person and conscientious patrolman, was stationed and lived in Truckee.

He supposedly has or until recently had a son living and working in Truckee but I was unable to contact him.

A January 2001 story in the Los Angeles Times about the case was sent to me by one of Truckee’s well known and respected citizens, Hank Schwarz, who wrote that Glenn Carlson was his best friend in high school and was building a home on Hank’s street at the time of his murder. It is an unbelievably sad tale.

The Highway 267 bypass over the Truckee River is named in honor of Officer Glenn W. Carlson, a deserving tribute. But that’s only half the story.


After Robert Burns served his prison term for the parole violation in Oregon, he was scheduled in 1975 to be released back to California authorities to finish his prison time for the murder.

Oregon governor Robert W. Straub, believing Burns had been rehabilitated, refused to sign his extradition papers, instead allowing Burns to remain free in Oregon.

For several years Burns fought extradition attempts by California, then somehow California authorities lost track of Burns. In the meantime, he had turned his life around, married with a family in Oregon.

In 2001 California found Burns’ name on a list of fugitives and again tried to have him extradited to serve remaining time in California for Carlson’s murder.

At one point the 70-year old Burns lost an extradition hearing and was being driven by Oregon prison authorities to California when they were stopped 18 miles from the state line by Oregon State police cars.

Oregon took him back, a free man. Burns died in 2002 leaving a former wife and five children. A sad situation all around.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Don Rogers: That sieve, memory


An older friend I made when I began here in 2016 called the other day to talk about the paper. I hadn’t heard from her in awhile and, well, I’ve been here just long enough…

See more