Patrolman Joseph P. Burke

Patrolman Joseph P. Burke

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Saturday, June 18, 1932

Add to My Heroes

Joseph P. Burke

Patrolman Joseph Burke died of a gunshot wound he received while attempting to apprehend a robbery suspect.

Patrolman Burke and two other officers were informed that there was a robbery in progress inside of 2320 Seventh Avenue, Manhattan. Two officers entered through a connecting store and Patrolman Burke stood guard at the side door on 136th street. The two officers inside the store were able to apprehend two suspects, but a third ran out the side door. When he was confronted by Patrolman Burke, the suspect opened fire, striking Patrolman Burke in the head. The suspect and two look outs fled. The suspect that shot Patrolman Burke was apprehended a block away by other officers, but the two look outs escaped. They were arrested later in the day when the other suspect told officers where they could find the men.

Patrolman Burke was removed to Harlem Hospital where he died six days later from his wound.

The suspect was later convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. He was executed on January 10th, 1934.

Patrolman Burke was a U.S Army veteran and of WWI had served with the New York City Police Department for six years and was assigned to the 32nd Precinct.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge 4470
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Sunday, June 12, 1932
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Executed on January 10, 1934

Most Recent Reflection

View all 10 Reflections

Kieran Burke, a retired NYPD detective and son of a slain cop, has died, relatives said Thursday. He was 94.

Posted on New York Daily News Mar 26, 2020

Burke died from the flu on March 15, his son Michael Burke told the Daily News.

Burke was born in Manhattan in 1926 and grew up in the South Bronx and Rockaway Beach.

When he was just 6, his father, Patrolman Joseph Burke, was fatally shot trying to apprehend a robbery suspect while assigned to the 32nd Precinct in Harlem.

The 34-year-old cop and World War I veteran was guarding the door at a robbery in progress on Seventh Ave. when he was shot by a fleeing suspect. The man who shot him was ultimately arrested, convicted of first-degree murder and executed in 1934, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website dedicated to fallen officers.

Kieran Burke eventually followed in his slain dad’s footsteps by becoming a cop.

“He was the strong, silent type,” Michael Burke said of his dad. “He was pretty much the man of the house after his father died, so he had to take care of his mother and his two little brothers.”

The quiet cop never brought his work home with him, “unless it was humorous,” the proud son said.

“I asked him once if there was a television show that best described what it was like being a cop,” Michael Burke remembered. “He said ‘Barney Miller.’”

Kieran Burke graduated from St. Ann’s Academy and served in the Navy in World War II before joining the NYPD in 1948, where he spent most of his career in the 44th Precinct near Yankee Stadium.

He took a break from investigating crime in the early 1950s when he re-enlisted in the Navy to fight in the Korean War.

In 1961, Burke was assigned to Yankee Stadium to watch over right-fielder Roger Maris, who was getting death threats as he threatened to break Babe Ruth’s home run record, his son remembered.

Ten years later, Burke and three other detectives received the Medal of Honor for rounding up 10 suspects in a Harlem drug sweep that ended in a fierce firefight between dealers and cops.

The suspects, who were linked to notorious Harlem drug lord Nicky Barnes, fired more than 60 shots before they were rounded up and arrested in the St. Nicholas Ave. apartment — in the same neighborhood where his father died 37 years earlier.

“It was the only time he fired his gun,” his son said.

The decorated detective married his wife Veronica in 1952 and raised four children in Pearl River, N.Y., before retiring to Florida.

When his wife died in 2014, Burke moved to an assisted living facility in Greenwich, Conn. He’s survived by his children Michael, Ann Marie, Kieran and Veronica, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A cremation has been performed and a service will be held at Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home in Greenwich once the coronavirus crisis passes, Burke’s son said.

Retired Police Officer

March 26, 2020

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.