Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 2 years, 7 months, 16 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 35th District - East Chicago
District of Incident (Present Day): 018 - Near North
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 36
Date of Birth: 15 Jun 1897
Date of Appointment: 29 Dec 1930
Date of Incident: 018 - Near North
End of Watch: 14 Aug 1933
Date of Interment: 17 Aug 1933
Cemetery: Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # C-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 18
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 35
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 23-E: 6
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Joseph P. Hastings, Star #6384, aged 36 years, was a 2 year, 7 month, 16 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 35th District – East Chicago.
On August 14, 1933, Officer Hastings was on patrol conducting routine checks on various businesses, on his beat, at Navy Pier located at 600 East Grand Avenue. At the same time in The Office of the Bureau of Streets, which was being used by the Illinois Emergency Relief Commission as a pay station to pay workers on the pier, a robbery was taking place. Two gunmen, Morris Cohen and Hymie Sinnenberg, burst into the office with guns drawn. The office was crowded with 50 employees of the Commission’s “make work“ division. The 50 men were left unemployed and destitute by the Great Depression and relied on the commission for work. The men had been in line waiting to receive their pay as Thomas Turner, Paymaster, was getting ready to disperse the checks. Also working in the officer were six city clerks and Thomas B. Rawls, a Currency Exchange official who would cash the payroll checks. A Bureau Clerk, James Harnett, saw what was taking place and grabbed the phone in an attempt to call for help as the gunmen advanced on Rawls. One of the gunmen saw Hartnett grab the phone and fired a round at him, missing his head by only an inch. The gunmen then seized the cash box from Rawls, which contained $600.00 and some loose change. Officer Hastings, on patrol, heard the gunfire come from the office and went to investigate. The bandits then ordered everyone in the office to lie on the floor. As they waited for everyone to comply, Officer Hastings arrived on scene.
The following statement of events was given by Bureau Clerk Charles Eddy. Officer Hastings entered the office and seemed to only notice the gunman who was rifling through the cash box. Officer Hastings drew his weapon and aimed it at the robber, but before he could do anything else was fired upon by the second gunmen. Hastings was struck and fell to the floor, not before he fired twice and then lost his strength. The gunmen then grabbed the Officer’s revolver, went to the front of the office firing one more time before they fled the scene with the cash box.
As the robbers fled the scene, they dropped one of their guns. That gun was picked up by George Stumpf, who fired at the backs of the robbers as they fled, emptying the gun. At the same time, several of the men in the office picked up Officer Hastings and loaded him into a vehicle and rushed him to Henrotin Hospital. Officer Hastings was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound. The bullet had nicked his star, entered his chest, passing through the heart before exiting his back.
A manhunt for the gunman was initiated and it wasn’t long before Morris Cohen was found in the Ambassador Garage at 1350 North Clark Street. Cohen had been shot and was found bleeding. Denying his part in the crime, he eventually confessed to planning the holdup and enlisting the help of an accomplice whose name he did not know. After being shown a photo spread of men, he identified Hymie Sinnenberg, who was also identified by other witnesses. Sinnenberg’s arrest was recommended by the Coroner, but he would evade capture disappearing along with the $600.00 plus in proceeds. Morris Cohen stood trial and was found guilty. On August 23, 1933, Cohen was sentenced to death for his part in the robbery and murder. On October 13, 1933, Cohen was executed in the electric chair at Cook County Jail.
Officer Hastings was waked at his sisters residence located at 6114 West 43rd Place. His funeral mass was held in Requiem at St. Gabriel Church located at 4522 South Wallace Street. He was laid to rest on August 17, 1933 in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 2755 West 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman Joseph P. Hastings, born June 15, 1897, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on December 29, 1930.
Officer Hastings was survived by his wife, Mary (nee McGrath) and siblings: Agnes Oliphant, Ann O’Malley, Catherine Ambrose, Helen O’Malley, James and Margaret O’Hearn. The couple had only been married for four months at the time of Hastings death.