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 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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I remember when Mr. Riley was killed. I went to Christ the King church and school. Laurie Riley was in my grade and her younger brother Jim was in my brother's grade. My brother and I were good friends with Jim and were at the Riley house any number of times. The CK student body all went to Mr. Riley's funeral Mass. It was very sad with many of the girls and others crying. I was 12 and remember it being such a brave thing to do and how it must have affected his toddler son who witnessed it all. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, we didn't hang out with or see Jim Riley again. It was all such an "out of the ordinary" event I don't think my brother and I knew quite how to handle it. It just kinda changed everything. When a friend loses a loved one in such a tragic manner (which we had never experienced up to that time), it was like we weren't sure how to handle it with our friend. I'm glad to see Laurie and a few of her brothers have posted reflections here. God bless you all!

Childhood friend

May 1, 2018

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