Patrol Officer James Gatzounas

Patrol Officer James Gatzounas

Holyoke Police Department, Massachusetts

End of Watch Saturday, January 1, 1977

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James Gatzounas

Officer James Gatzounas died after being assaulted as he and other officers responded to a fight at a New Year's Eve street party. As Officer Gatzounas attempted to place one of the suspects under arrest, he was repeatedly kicked and punched, and he went into cardiac arrest.

Two suspects, ages 19 and 17, were charged with first-degree murder. When Officer Gatzounas' autopsy revealed he died of cardiac arrest instead of injuries from the beating, the charges were reduced to manslaughter.

Officer Gatzounas was a United States Army Vietnam veteran and served with the Holyoke Police Department for 18 months. He was survived by his wife and child.


  • Age 29
  • Tour 1 year, 6 months
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Person
  • Offender Charged with manslaughter

Most Recent Reflection

View all 16 Reflections

Jim grew up in my neighborhood. He was a good person and was liked by all he met. We were all happy and proud for him when he became a cop.
We all suspected he sustained a "heart punch" causing commotio cordis. But the medical examiner must have missed all the visible signs of his injuries and probably wasn't aware of a "heart punch".
I will always remember Jim and the tragic way he died while serving and protecting the city. I will also forever resent that his killing was minimized by less than diligent forensic work.

Paul Gelineau

January 5, 2023

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