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 pursing 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. During the pursuit, Officer Sykes and his FTO lost sight of the car. As they were passing 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 bullet proof 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 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.


  • Age 22
  • Tour 1 week
  • Badge 886

Incident Details

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

Most Recent Reflection

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Well John, man Oh man, you just don’t know how much you are loved & missed! I wish you were here, that we could share in each other’s successes! Brother, I think of you so often, but I know that we’ll see each other again! Just wanted to talk to you, tell Big Bo I said hello! Rest Well Friend!

Rev. Dr. Tracy Foxx

September 4, 2021

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