Sergeant Gerald James Riley

Sergeant Gerald James Riley

Detroit Police Department, Michigan

End of Watch Friday, December 8, 1972

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Gerald James Riley

Sergeant Gerald Riley was shot and killed while attempting to stop a bank hold-up in progress at 13043 West Seven Mile Road.

Sgt. Riley was off duty at the time of the incident. He 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 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 10 years and is survived by his wife, daughter, and five sons - one of whom went on to become a police officer.


  • Age 39
  • Tour 10 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

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

bank robbery, off duty

Most Recent Reflection

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My name is Chris Orton, I'm a retired cop in Texas. I grew up in Detroit, my dad was a Detroit Cop with your dad. Actually, I think they were friends. The death of your dad greatly affected me when i was 10 years old in 1972. Actually part of my PTSD. I teach classes on PTSD these days to first responders and I mention your dad in every class I teach. I would greatly appreciate if a family member contacted me so I can let you know how I honor your dad as well as touch base as kids of the 60's and 70's in Detroit. My cell is 512-517-4179.

Thank you!

Christopher Lee Orton
My dad was a Detroit Cop.

February 21, 2020

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