Death Classification: Line of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 4 years, 5 months, 6 days

Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 4, 4th Precinct - South Wabash

District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy

Age at Time of Death: 30


Date of Birth: 11 Jan 1889

Date of Appointment: 22 Feb 1915

Date of Incident: 002 - Wentworth

End of Watch: 28 Jul 1919

Date of Interment: 05 Aug 1919


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Lincoln Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
 Grave Location: Unknown
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-5

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 7

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 57

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 19-E: 8

Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed



 Military Service: YES, Branch Unknown


Incident & Biographic Details

Patrolman John W. Simpson, Star #4774, aged 30 years, was a 4 year, 5 month, 6 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 4, 4th Precinct – South Wabash.

On July 28, 1919, at 8:45 p.m., Officer Simpson was found in an alley at 27th Street and Wabash Avenue with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. A black rioter shot him at the 31st Street Train Station, located at 31st Street and Wabash Avenue. The incident took place during the 1919 race riot. Officer Simpson was taken to Mercy Hospital where he was taken into surgery. His wounds were to grave and he died on the operating room table the same day.

On August 28, 1919, the arrest of the assailant was recommended by the Coroner. The assailant is unknown and was still at large as of January 1920.

Officer Simpson was waked at his residence located at 3910 South Calumet Avenue. He was laid to rest on August 5, 1919 in Lincoln Cemetery, 12300 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Patrolman John W. Simpson, born January 11, 1889, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on February 22, 1915.

Officer Simpson served in the Armed Forces, was a veteran of World War I and was honorably discharged. He was survived by his parents: Mariah and Silas and brother, Curtis.

Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #5209.

Officer Simpson was one of the 38 fatalities of The Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Chicago’s riot was the worst amongst approximately two dozen riots which raged in the U.S. during the “Red Summer.” The “Red Summer” which occurred in the summer and autumn months marked the culmination of racial tension after WWI.

In January 2021, A Chicago Police Department Mounted Unit Horse was named “Simpson” in honor of Officer Simpson.