Sergeant Gerald James Riley

Sergeant Gerald James Riley

Detroit Police Department, Michigan

End of Watch Friday, December 8, 1972

Gerald James Riley

Sergeant Gerald Riley was shot and killed while attempting to stop a bank hold-up in progress.

The officer who was off duty at the time was standing in line at the bank with his two year old child when he witnessed the robbery and attempted to act. As he pulled his revolver and ordered the robber to drop his gun, the robber's accomplice whom he did not see shot him. Sergeant Riley returned fire seriously wounding the robber whom he had told to drop his gun. Sergeant Riley then collapsed on the floor of the bank. As he lay helpless on the floor the robber who had shot him walked over and shot him in the face right in front of his child. Both suspects were apprehended after officers followed the trail of blood left in the snow.

The suspect who killed Sergeant Riley was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison on March 5, 1973. He received an additional 15 to 30 years for killing a security guard during a supermarket robbery. The other suspect was sentenced to 15 to 30 years.

Sergeant Riley was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

He had been a member of the Detroit Police Department for ten years, and is survived by his wife, daughter, and five sons.


  • Age 39
  • Tour 10 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 28 Reflections

The Loss of Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez here in New Mexico has, unfortunately, brought to mind the loss of my God-Father, Sergeant Gerald James Riley some 45 years ago. This prompted m my discovery of this wonderful and appropriately respectful sight. I was only 9 years old when "Uncle Jerry" lost his life while trying to stop a bank robbery. I remember when I was very young imagining this father of one of my closest childhood friends as a kind of super-hero who went about his daily business of fighting crime in the great city of Detroit. I wasn't wrong. This wonderful man was and is a hero that I will continue, throughout my life, to strive to be worthy of calling myself his God-Child. Rest in Peace, Jerry and your devoted wife Barbara. Love, Always and forever. And to your children, especially John with whom I have many happier childhood memories, God Bless and keep you all well.

Mark Prince

May 21, 2017

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