Patrolman James B. O'Leary

Patrolman James B. O'Leary

Boston Police Department, Massachusetts

End of Watch Friday, August 2, 1963

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James B. O'Leary

Patrolman James O'Leary was shot and killed while chasing several suspects who had just robbed a liquor store at 9 pm.

He had been assigned to a detail to observe the suspects when they robbed a store at the intersection of Boylston Street and Graves Street. Patrolman O'Leary commandeered a vehicle and chased the suspects to the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Fairfield Street, where he was shot by one of the men.

Patrolman O'Leary was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where he succumbed to his gunshot while in surgery.

Two suspects, ages 29 and 31, were arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. The gunman, sentenced to death, later had his sentence commuted to life. On August 30, 1984, his request for parole was approved but blocked by Governor Michael S Dukakis. The other suspect was sentenced to life.

Patrolman O'Leary was a United States Army WW II veteran and had served with the Boston Police Department for 16 years. He was survived by his wife and three children.

The bridge that carries Boylston Street over the Massachusetts Turnpike was renamed the Patrolman James B. O'Leary Bridge.


  • Age 46
  • Tour 16 years
  • Badge 1618
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Thursday, August 1, 1963
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to life

robbery, vehicle pursuit

Most Recent Reflection

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Patrolman O'Leary, it has been 60 years since you were taken from us. New England law enforcement has continued to thrive, learn and become safer due to the traditions and sacrifices you, your family, and many others have made for us. Thank you for your military and law enforcement service.

Chief (Ret) Steven Marshall
Georges Mills, NH

August 3, 2023

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