Patrolman John Wesley Sykes, Jr.

Patrolman John Wesley Sykes, Jr.

Memphis Police Department, Tennessee

End of Watch Friday, December 31, 1982

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John Wesley Sykes, Jr.

Patrolman John Sykes was shot and killed while pursuing a vehicle in John F. Kennedy Park.

At approximately 7:11 pm, Patrolman Sykes and his field training officer observed a vehicle driving erratically. Unknown to the officers, the two occupants had just committed an armed robbery in a U.S. Post Office parking lot. The officers attempted to stop the vehicle and a pursuit began. The officers lost sight of the car during the pursuit but noticed the car had pulled into John F. Kennedy Park.

As they quickly turned around and entered the park the vehicle sped out from its hiding place. As the vehicle passed the patrol car one of the occupants opened fire. Patrolman Sykes was struck in the neck, less than an inch from the top of his bulletproof vest. He was rushed to Methodist Hospital where he died about two hours later.

Both suspects were apprehended two days later. They were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. On September 5th, 1984, after being in prison for seven months, both were attacked by several inmates with knives and left in critical condition. Both recovered and the youngest was paroled at some point after 2011. The other suspect died in prison after 2003.

Patrolman Sykes had graduated from the Police Academy only 13 days prior to the incident. He was survived by his parents.


  • Age 22
  • Tour 1 week
  • Badge 886

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .357 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life

field training, robbery, traffic stop, vehicle pursuit

Most Recent Reflection

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Hey uncle John, I never gotten to meet you. I heard amazing stories about you coming up, and I think about you everyday. I was born 10yrs later to your brother Jim Sykes. I shared alot of memories with Granddaddy though before he passed, & aunt Carolyn (Fruity) keep me updated on my dad side of the family! I love, & miss y'all dearly!

Corbin Brown

January 27, 2023

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