Patrolman Patrick Riley

Patrolman Patrick Riley

Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio

End of Watch Tuesday, March 8, 1887

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Patrick Riley

Patrolman Patrick Riley was accidentally shot and killed during a raid when a handgun fell from another officer's pocket and discharged, striking him.

On March 5, 1887, though off duty, Patrolman Riley went with rookie Patrolmen Samuel T. Corbin and Frank Morgan to conduct a raid on Louis White’s Saloon and “crap” house in Rat Row at No. 97 East Front Street. The officers went to Central Station to get a patrol wagon and drive to the saloon. Along the way, they found and picked up rookie Patrolmen Thomas M. Higgins and Frank Kruse, who patrolled a beat adjoining Patrolmen Corbin and Morgan’s.

When they neared White’s Saloon, they split up and walked quietly to the front and rear, Patrolmen Kruse and Morgan at the front with Patrolman Riley following. As they ran across the street, Patrolman Kruse leaped over a puddle in the street and onto the sidewalk. His regulation .38 caliber revolver came out of his breast pocket, fell to the ground, landed on its hammer, and discharged. Patrolman Kruse stopped, picked up the revolver, and ran into the saloon. The patrons, having heard the gunshot, stampeded from all exits of the saloon. At the time, Patrolman Kruse did not know that the bullet had struck Patrolman Riley several feet behind him.

Patrolman Riley didn’t know either. He heard the shot and felt the searing pain. He began to stagger and, five seconds later, came to the realization, exclaiming, “Oh, I’m shot!” A citizen, James Stamp, saw this and went to Patrolman Riley, who told him to examine his revolver, thinking that it was the one that had discharged. Stamp advised that all the cartridges were intact and then helped the wounded officer to Johnson’s Saloon, across the street from White’s. Stamp suggested he call for a wagon, and Patrolman Riley said, “No, the wagon is coming .”

As officers came from the now empty White’s Saloon, they found Patrolman Riley wounded at Johnson’s Saloon and rode with him to the Hammond Street Stationhouse and then to Central Station, where he was met by Police Surgeon Armstrong. Dr. Armstrong cut the bullet out of his back but determined the wound to be likely fatal, having traversed front to back and through his intestines. Patrolman Riley was then removed to City Hospital, and officers were sent to retrieve his aged mother. On March 8, 1887, at 6:20 p.m., he passed away from acute peritonitis, surrounded by close friends and relatives.

Patrolman Riley had served with the Cincinnati Police Department for nearly a year and a half. He was survived by his mother.

He is buried at St. Joseph's (New) Cemetery in Price Hill.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 1 year, 4 months
  • Badge 89

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire (Inadvertent)
  • Incident Date Saturday, March 5, 1887

accidental discharge, Raid

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NEVER FORGET! Please join me and honor the dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice Patrolman Patrick Riley of the Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio and the additional 56 American Peace Officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this date in history.

Superintendent Joe Morbitzer (Retired)
Ohio Attorney General, Bureau of Criminal Investigation

March 8, 2024

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