Patrolman James O'Neill

Patrolman James O'Neill

Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio

End of Watch Tuesday, April 20, 1915

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James O'Neill

Patrolman James O'Neill was shot and killed while attempting to arrest four men underneath the Southern Bridge.

On April 18, 1915, at 2 a.m., while searching a one of four suspects in a street car robbery at Liston and Riverside Avenues, another one of the suspects shot him in the chest. The four suspects fled and Patrolman O'Neill fired three shots at them, but none took effect.

Alone on his beat, Patrolman O’Neill walked a block and a half to a call box at Liston and Ingalls Avenues to call for a patrol wagon. When the wagon arrived, he climbed aboard, unassisted, and was taken to General Hospital. The physicians believed that the bullet penetrated his chest and lodged in his back muscles and that he might survive .

The following night, police arrested several suspects, including a man who admitted that he was one of the people with the shooter, but stated that he had tried to stop the shooting. He also gave police the shooters' name and description .

By April 19, 1915, Patrolman O’Neill was in critical condition and x-rays showed that the bullet had ranged downward and into his liver. At 4:45 a.m. on April 20, 1915, Patrolman O’Neill passed away.

Also on April 20, 1915, a warrant was taken out against the suspected shooter. The investigation showed that after the shooting he hired a boat to take him across the river to Kentucky. He told the boatman that he had had some problem with a policeman in Cincinnati .

On May 18, 1915, one month after the murder, the suspected shooter was captured in Mahnomen, Minnesota. While under arrest, the suspect told a prisoner that he had shot and killed a policeman in Cincinnati and that there was a $500 reward for his capture. Patrolman Roscoe Lewis, who knew the suspect on sight, was sent Minnesota to pick him up .

During the ensuing trial the suspect testified in his own behalf and offered no defense other than an unsupported alibi that he was working as a waiter when the offense occurred; the jury found the suspect no guilty due to the belief that the prosecution could not disprove that the suspect was working as a waiter that night.

Patrolman O'Neill had served with the agency for over 21 years and was survived by his wife and son.


  • Age 49
  • Tour 21 years, 3 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Sunday, April 18, 1915
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

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NEVER FORGET! On behalf of the Westerville, Ohio Division of Police, we honor the dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice of Patrolman James O'Neill of the Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio and the additional 65 American Peace Officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this date in history.

Chief Joe Morbitzer
Westerville, Ohio Division of Police

April 21, 2018

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