Lieutenant James E. O'Connor

Lieutenant James E. O'Connor

Chicago Police Department, Illinois

End of Watch Wednesday, January 28, 1970

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James E. O'Connor

Police Lieutenant James E. O’Connor was shot and killed during an armed robbery attempt.

Lieutenant James O’Connor was visiting a friend, a retired policeman, at 11048 S. Michigan, a business where he now worked. The armed robber entered the establishment, gun in one hand and the other hand covering his face for a disguise.

Lieutenant O’Connor had a clear shot at the 20 year old gunman but instead tried to disarm him and spare his life. In the struggle, the gunman fired once, and a bullet wound in the head killed the lieutenant.

Two detectives were in the neighborhood on an investigation and saw the struggle from across the street. Joining detectives in the pursuit was another policeman who had been in the office with O’Connor. Both the gunman and his accomplice were arrested within hours.

The 20-year-old gunman was convicted of murder and sentenced to 50 to 100 years in prison. His 33-year-old accomplice committed suicide in jail.

Lieutenant O’Connor was a 37 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1954 and had recently been assigned to the Kensington District.

Bio

  • Age 62
  • Tour 37 years
  • Badge 434

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to 50 to 100 years

Most Recent Reflection

View all 17 Reflections

Lt. James O'Connor was a hero in every aspect, not only because he spared the life of the armed robber whom he could have legally shot and killed, but also by refusing to let age, time of service, and proximity to retirement define him. He was a professional Chicago Police Officer all the way, and his example helped inspire a record turnout of young people in subsequent entrance exams for the Chicago Police Department. His descendants have left very moving tributes to the memory of this fine man, and they should know on the 50th anniversary of this sad incident that his sacrifice was not in vain; the memory of Lt. O'Connor will stand for all time.

Respectfully submitted,
David L. Milligan
Chicago Police Department (ret.)

David Milligan
Chicago Police department (ret.)

January 28, 2020

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