Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 1 year, 1 month, 7 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 23rd District - Marquette
District of Incident (Present Day): 011 - Harrison
Location of Occurrence:
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 23
Date of Birth: 16 Dec 1933
Date of Appointment: 01 Oct 1956
Date of Incident: 011 - Harrison
End of Watch: 08 Nov 1957
Date of Interment: 16 Nov 1957
Cemetery: Restvale Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 18
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 4
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 18-E: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Bernie Poe, Star #6509, aged 23 years, was a 1 year, 1 month, 7 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 23rd District – Marquette.
On November 8, 1957, Officer Poe was walking his beat when he saw Patrolman William McDonagh, age 52, struggling with a forgery suspect in front of 3140 West Roosevelt Road. The forgery suspect was Elijah White, age 36 of 2235 West Roosevelt Road. White had attempted to cash a stolen check when he went into a jewelry store with Arthur Richard Jones. During the struggle with Officer McDonagh White gained control of Officer McDonagh’s service revolver. White shot Patrolman Poe in the chest with the gun as he ran to help his fellow officer. White then shot Officer McDonagh in the right arm before fleeing.
During the investigation, White’s identity was learned from Arthur Richard Jones who said that the two entered the jewelry store. Jones went in to buy a pair of trousers and when he saw White trying to cash the stolen check he left. Jones also said he left because he had cashed a bogus check the day before and he didn’t want to get more involved. Jones said he last saw White running south on Troy Avenue from Roosevelt Road. A police dragnet was put out on the Roosevelt Road area in an effort to locate White. However, when White was reported somewhere in Baldwin, Michigan many of the policemen were called off.
On November 10, 1957, White was arrested outside of Baldwin, Michigan while hitch hiking by Sheriff Jesse MacDougall of Lake County. Lieutenant James McMahan motored to Baldwin the same day to get white and extradite him back to Chicago. During the interrogation, White admitted to passing the bogus check and recalled the events before and after the shooting but said little about the actual shooting. White said he heard the gun go off in the struggle and thought he was shot. He did not recall having the gun in his hand. After the fracas he fled to Willie Green’s house on Roosevelt Road. He spent the night there and when he heard the news report on the radio the next morning, he told Green that he wanted to go to Mackinac Island to visit a sick relative. He asked Green to let him go as far as Baldwin with him because he knew Green was going to Baldwin.
Elijah White was held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner and indicted for manslaughter. On February 4, 1958, White was sentenced to 99 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary during a bench trial by Judge Samuel B. Epstein. White would not be eligible for parole until he reached 70 years of age.
Officer Poe was waked at Biggs & Biggs Funeral Home located at 3246 West Jackson Boulevard. His funeral mass was held at Zion Hill Mount Baptist Church located at 1460 West 78th Street. He was laid to rest on November 16, 1957 in Restvale Cemetery, 11700 South Laramie Street, Alsip, Illinois.
Patrolman Bernie Poe, born December 16, 1933, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 1, 1956.
Officer Poe was survived by parents: Julie (nee Hinkle) and Lee and sibling: Norman, age 17.
On December 18, 1957, Officer Poe’s star was retired by Commissioner Timothy J. O’Connor and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the 4th floor Office of the Superintendent at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. The Honored Star Case was later relocated to the lobby of Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer Poe’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.