Sergeant Gerald James Riley

Sergeant Gerald James Riley

Detroit Police Department, Michigan

End of Watch Friday, December 8, 1972

Add to My Heroes

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 served with the Detroit Police Department for 10 years. He 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

off duty, robbery

Most Recent Reflection

View all 42 Reflections

Mrs. Riley and Family. My name is Ken Johnson. I went to Christ the King Grade School. I was a classmate and good friend of Jim Riley in the fifth grade in 1972-73. I remember this tragic event as Jim was called out of Sister Patricia's math class to the principals office. Everyone at school and everyone's family found out that evening. I remember many people from our church attended the wake and funeral. I cried for your father and my friend Jim and his family (I still do, to this day). The Riley family was large, and a loving strong mother led them through the oncoming years. I remember shortly after the funeral, that I asked Jim Riley to my birthday party at my home, and he was the only person I invited. He signed my little autograph book. He showed much strength, and bravery . . . just like his father. I have often wondered how much courage, faith, strength, love and hope your entire family has continued to live in your individual lives, May God Bless all of your, and may God Bless your Dear Father, Officer Gerald James Riley.
Ken T. Johnson. Jr.

Ken Johnson
an old Classmate Friend

July 15, 2023

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.