Spencer, who had begun his career in the department in January 1968, was working, in uniform, as an off-duty security guard for the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Department at Harris Park in Ensley Highlands on Sunday July 13, 1969.
After a disturbance broke out, Spencer attempted to eject a group of black males. He was reportedly "rushed" by several of them, and his service weapon fell out of his holster and onto the ground during the struggle. It was picked up and used to shoot him. Homer R. Slaughter, 21 was found soon later, sitting on the porch of a nearby house holding Spencer's gun. He was arrested and convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison. Slaughter briefly escaped from Fountain Correctional Center in Atmore in 1974, but was recaptured.
Fourteen new city pools had been constructed with federal funds the year before, although only ten of them were opened in 1969. Extra security was provided, in part, because of expected tensions between black and white parties of swimmers. After Spencer's death several groups confronted Mayor George Seibels and police chief Jamie Moore, blaming the city for opening public pools in white neighborhoods. Harris Park's pool was closed immediately. All other city pools were soon closed for the remainder of the year. They reopened in 1970 under pressure from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. When they reopened, swimming was limited to children under 15 years old, with a maximum of 150 swimmers per pool.
- "Policeman is killed in Birmingham, Ala." (July 14, 1969) The Anniston Star
- "Police Wives Confront Mayor Seibels" (July 15, 1969) The Tuscaloosa News
- "Pool Location, Battle Center In Birmingham" (July 16, 1969) The Tuscaloosa News
- "Birmingham Will Reopen Pools Monday" (June 20, 1970) The Tuscaloosa News