Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 8 years, 3 months, 14 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Detective Bureau (DB)
District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Friendly
Age at Time of Death: 34
Date of Birth: 27 Sep 1879
Date of Appointment: 02 Apr 1906
Date of Incident: 001 - Central
End of Watch: 16 Jul 1914
Date of Interment: 21 Jul 1914
Cemetery: St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery - Niles, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 52, Block N, Section 171
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 22
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 43
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 16-W: 13
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Sergeant Stanley James Birns, Star #322, aged 34 years, was an 8 year, 3 month, 14 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Detective Bureau.
On July 16, 1914, Detective Sergeant Birns, under the command of First Deputy Superintendent M. C. Funkhouser, was assigned to lead a team of officers on a vice raid at Swann’s Poolroom located at 67 East 22nd Street (present day Cermak Road) in the cities levee district. The men were working in plain clothes. At the same time, a group of city morals inspectors, Special Police, under the command of Chief Morals Inspector W. C. Dannenberg were in the area also working in plainclothes. The morals inspectors were originally supposed to carry out raids on the North side of the city, but ended up at the same place as Detective Sergeant Birns.
Dannenberg’s men, Special Police Officers Fred Amart and Joseph Merril, Railway Fireman James Carroll and Investigator Johnson, had just finished raiding a spot known as The Turf where four prostitutes were openly soliciting business. The Clark Street patrol wagon was summoned to transport the four women and one man they had arrested. After the patrol wagon left, Dannenberg’s men then headed East to meet Inspector Dannenberg on Michigan Avenue. While walking to the location, the inspectors were followed by a group of neighborhood regulars. The regulars attempted to deny the group of men their element of surprise by being loud and obnoxious. The regulars then began throwing bricks at the men.
At 9:35 p.m., Dannenberg’s men reached Swann’s Poolroom and encountered Detective Sergeant Stanley Birns and his men. As Dannenberg’s men approached the poolroom with the neighborhood regulars on their back, Birn’s men observed them coming with the regulars following them. Detective Sergeant Birns and his men hurried for the crowd and heard someone yell, “Look out! They all have guns.” This was most likely shouted by one of the neighborhood regulars referring to Dannenberg’s men. Tragically, in a case of mistaken identity, gunfire erupted. Detective Sergeant Birns and his men drew their weapons and Dannenberg’s men opened fire in response thinking Birn’s men were attacking them. The two groups of men exchanged gunfire as pedestrians ran to escape the gunfire. One pedestrian, Roscoe Vantile was shot in the leg. Amart ran to the doorway of the pool hall, got behind a post and fired at Birns. Birns was hit but fired back. Amart then ran up the stairs where he was later found by responding police.
The sound of the gunfire brought policemen running in from the surrounding area. Officers from the 22nd Street Station, Bill Schubert’s Gambling crew and the Vice Quad all responded. When the smoke cleared all of the wounded and dead were identified and transported to the morgue or hospitals. Detective Sergeant Stanley Birns was the only death recorded in the incident. Investigator Johnson was arrested and taken to the 22nd Street Station accused of firing the shot that killed Birns. Special Police Officer Fred Amart was also arrested and accompanied Johnson to the station. Both men were questioned by General Superintendent James Gleason, First Deputy Superintendent Funkhouser and Captain Michael P. Ryan at various times. At the conclusion of the questioning all officers involved were exonerated and no charges were filed.
Detective Sergeant Birns was waked at his residence located at 1848 North Western Avenue. He was laid to rest on July 21, 1914 in St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, 6800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 52, Block N, Section 171.
Detective Sergeant Stanley James Birns, born September 27, 1879, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 2, 1906. On August 7, 1911, he was promoted to Acting Sergeant and issued Star #477. On November 8, 1913, he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Class Detective Sergeant, becoming effective by order of the city council on November 10, 1913.
Detective Sergeant Birns was survived by his wife, Annie (nee Raflewski).
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #3004.