Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 14 years, 10 months, 28 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 5th District - Kensington
District of Incident (Present Day): 003 - Grand Crossing
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 40
Date of Birth: 10 Jul 1932
Date of Appointment: 01 May 1958
Date of Incident: 003 - Grand Crossing
End of Watch: 29 Mar 1973
Date of Interment: 02 Apr 1973
Cemetery: Burr Oak Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-6
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 20
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 26
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 39-E: 3
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Air Force
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Wendell Harry Hicks, Star #11561, aged 40 years, was a 14 years, 10 months, 28 days veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 5th District – Kensington.
On March 29, 1973, at 12:25 a.m., Officer Hicks was off duty and had just exited a bowling alley located at 7500 South Prairie Avenue. While walking to his car he witnessed a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver, Clarence Turner of 610 East 83rd Street being robbed by two men at 101 East 75th Street. Mr. Turner was getting into his car, which was parked in a parking lot, when he was approached by Herman Reese, age 22, of 7011 South Michigan Avenue and Charles Thompson, age 24, of 7027 South Michigan Avenue. Reese produced a revolver and demanded Mr. Turners money. Reese then took $10.00 and a pack of cigarettes from Mr. Turner. Officer Hicks, seeing the robbery in progress immediately identified himself as a Police Officer and yelled “Police Halt.“ Seeing the officer Thompson fled Eastbound in the north alley of 75th Street on foot. Reese jumped in Mr. Turner’s car and sped away northbound on Michigan Avenue. Officer Hicks then jumped into his car and began to pursue the carjacker. Reese drove into an alley on 69th Street between Michigan and Indiana Avenues. He lost control of the vehicle, skidding on the wet pavement and crashed into a fence. Officer Hicks, hot on his tail, exited his vehicle and attempted to make an arrest when Reese fired two times. Reese then took Officer Hick’s service revolver and star and fled the scene running east bound on foot to a gangway at 6849 South Indiana Avenue and making good his escape. Officer Hicks was shot once in the chest and was found lying face down on the pavement, slightly under his car, by responding units. Officer Hicks was transported to St. Bernard Hospital by beat 371 where he was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Kho at 12:40 a.m. on March 29, 1973.
On March 31, 1973, Reese was arrested by Area 2 Criminal Investigation Division Investigators after he was identified by Mr. Turner in a photo array as one of the robbers. During interrogation, Reese admitted his part and implicated Thompson as his accomplice. On April 1, 1973, Charles Thompson placed in a lineup and identified by Mr. Turner as the other man who had robbed him. On April 1, 1973, Thompson and Reese were charged with armed robbery and murder. Both men stood trial and were later convicted of Officer Hicks murder.
Officer Hicks was waked in Jackson Funeral Home located at 7350 South Cottage Grove Avenue. His funeral mass was held at Progressive Baptist Church located at 3658 South Wentworth Avenue. He was laid to rest on April 2, 1973 in Burr Oak Cemetery, 4400 West 127th Street, Alsip, Illinois.
Patrolman Wendell Harry Hicks, July 10, 1932, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on May 1, 1958. He earned 1 Superintendent’s Award of Valor (Posthumously), 1 Police Blue Star Award (Posthumously), 1 Department Commendation and 15 Honorable mentions during his career. In 1968, Officer Hicks was shot and wounded in the line of duty.
Officer Hicks served in the U.S. Air Force, was a veteran of the Korean War and was Honorably Discharged at the rank of Airman 1st Class. He was survived by his wife, Luecelestine (nee Williams) and children: Alicia, age 10 and Sharon Louise, age 14. he was preceded in death by his parents: Edna E. (nee Pruith) and Thomas.
Incident Recorded Under Chicago Police Department RD #N067496 Theft Case Report and N123694 Homicide Case Report.