Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 11 years, 11 months, 28 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 4th District - Stanton
District of Incident (Present Day): 009 - Deering
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Friendly
Age at Time of Death: 48
Date of Birth: 07 Feb 1899
Date of Appointment: 16 Aug 1935
Date of Incident: 009 - Deering
End of Watch: 13 Aug 1947
Date of Interment: 18 Aug 1947
Cemetery: Lincoln Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 13
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 45
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 37-E: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Dewey Levis Littleton, Star #6884, aged 48 years, was an 11 year, 11 month, 28 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 4th District – Stanton.
On August 13, 1947, at approximately 10:43 p.m., Detective Littleton along with Detectives John Blyth, Michael Egan and Milburn Wallace responded to a call of Domestic Disturbance at 3247 South Wentworth Avenue. Otis Williams, age 45, had shot his wife Callie, age 43, twice in their second floor apartment. She then was able to escape and run down stairs to a neighbor who called the police. Mr. Williams had been drinking for most of the evening and went into a rage at the point he shot his wife. As the detectives arrived on scene, Detective Littleton in the lead, they climbed the stairs to the apartment. Littleton observed Mr. Williams standing in the doorway on the second floor landing and motioned to the other detectives to keep their distance. Shortly after warning his partners to keep back, Mr. Williams opened fire on the detectives. A gunfight ensued and Detective Littleton was shot in the stomach. He succumbed to his wound shortly thereafter and it was later learned that three shotgun pellets are what led to his death.
Detectives Blyth, Egan and Wallace returned fire but Williams was able to take cover back inside the apartment’s living room. Detectives Blyth and Wallace maintained their position in the apartment’s doorway attempting to draw Williams out while Detective Egan ran downstairs and fired a can of tear gas through the front window of the apartment. By this time additional officers had responded to the scene and began to set up search lights. Responding officers and Williams continued to exchange gunfire shattering the building’s windows. Inside, Blyth and Wallace also continued to exchange gunfire with Williams as they attempted to convince him to surrender. During the gunfight, Williams left his cover and attempted to cross the living room. It was at this time Detective Blyth took advantage of this and fired two shotgun blasts at Williams. The blasts were direct hits, which killed Williams instantly and ended the standoff.
By the end of the standoff over 35 policemen were on scene and over 3,000 spectators had gathered to watch. Mrs. Williams later recovered at Michael Reese Hospital.
At the time of the incident it was reported that Detective Littleton was shot and killed by Mr. Williams. Chief of Detectives Storms divulged, 15 days after the incident that Littleton was shot by accident by Detective Michael Egan. Detective Littleton, along with Detective John Blyth, was on the second floor landing at the time of the shooting. Detective Littleton sighting Williams behind a door thrust Officer Blyth backwards to get him out of the line of fire. Officer Blyth, when he stepped back, bumped into Detective Egan. It was at this point when Egan, who was holding his shotgun, pointed upward, stumbled and accidentally fired, the full blast striking Littleton in the stomach. This information came about at the Coroner’s Inquest, held on August 29, 1947, and as Detective Egan listened to the opening session he only then began to realize that it must have been the blast from his shotgun which killed Detective Littleton. It was reported that after Detective Egan determined that his shot killed Littleton, he collapsed. Detective Egan was transferred to the Confidence Detail and Chief Storms said he thought it would be sometime before Egan was back with the Bureau Squad.
Police Commissioner Prendergast said that he did not believe there had been any attempt to cover up the shooting, and ascribed the time lapse in information to oversight or negligence. He said the police knew within 48 hours after the gun battle that Egan had shot Littleton accidentally. He said he supposed that Chief Storms “wanted to make sure before telling reporters.“
Dr. Jerry Kearns performed a post mortem on Littleton and testified at the inquest on August 15, 1947 that Littleton was killed by three shotgun pellets. As Williams had a revolver, but no shotgun, it became apparent at that time that Littleton could not have been shot by Williams. Deputy Coroner Eugene Ingles continued the Inquest at that time until 10:00 a.m. in the county morgue.
Tragically, Detective John Blyth would also be killed in the line of duty just over 9 years after this incident on June 16, 1956.
Officer Littleton’s funeral mass was held at South Shore Baptist Church located at 6028 South Champlain Avenue. He was laid to rest on August 18, 1947 in Lincoln Cemetery, 12300 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Detective Dewey Levis Littleton, born February 7, 1899, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on August 16, 1935. He was a Squad Leader at the time of his death.
Detective Littleton was a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association. He was survived by his wife, Ruth S. (nee Kerr); Hilda Claudin Agnes (nee Parson), age 45; and children: Dewey Edward Levis, age 17, Ismay Rose, age 11 and Emalda Emmeline, age 16.
Incident Recorded Under Chicago Police Department Central Complaint Room No. 31184 and Station Complaint No. 781095.