Police Officer John Wesley Sykes, Jr.

Police Officer John Wesley Sykes, Jr.

Memphis Police Department, Tennessee

End of Watch Friday, December 31, 1982

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John Wesley Sykes, Jr.

Officer John Sykes was shot and killed while pursuing a vehicle. At approximately 1911 hours, Officer Sykes and his FTO observed a vehicle driving erratically. Unknown to the officers, the two occupants had just committed an armed robbery in a Post Office parking lot. The officers attempted to stop the vehicle, and a pursuit began. Officer Sykes and his FTO lost sight of the car during the pursuit. As they passed a street, they noticed the car had pulled into the street to hide.

The officers quickly turned around to apprehend the suspects. The suspect vehicle sped out from its hiding place. As the suspect vehicle passed the patrol car, one of the suspects opened fire. Officer 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.

Both suspects, ages 29 and 24, were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. On September 5, 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.

Police Officer Sykes had graduated from the Police Academy only 13 days prior to this 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

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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