Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 13 years, 11 months, 25 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 18th District - East Chicago
District of Incident (Present Day): 011 - Harrison
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 39
Date of Birth: 12 Jul 1933
Date of Appointment: 01 Oct 1957
Date of Incident: 011 - Harrison
End of Watch: 26 Sep 1971
Date of Interment: 30 Sep 1971
Cemetery: Restvale Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Not Enshrined
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 4
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed
Officer Down Memorial Page: Not Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman William Henry Johnson, Star #13449, aged 38 years, 11 month, 25 day, was a 14 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 18th District – East Chicago Cabrini-Green Vertical Patrol Unit.
On September 26, 1971, at 2:00 a.m., Officer Johnson was off duty and getting into his 1971 Cadillac El Dorado outside his apartment building located at 344 South Hamlin Street. He had left the car double parked to go inside and change his clothes. Officer Johnson reported to work earlier in the night and was sent home after he complained of being ill. Officer Johnson was in the process of placing his uniform, gun and star inside the trunk when several shots rang out. Neighbors heard the gunfire and found Officer Johnson lying on the ground in his civilian clothes. He had several gunshot wounds to the chest and $768.00 in his pocket. A .38 caliber snub-nose revolver which he carried off duty was missing. He was taken to Garfield Park Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival on September 26, 1971. At the time of the incident robbery was ruled out as Officer Johnson still had his money.
Two men were later arrested and confessed to shooting Officer Johnson during a robbery attempt. David Sanders, age 31 and James Willie Woods, age 23 stated they had tried to hold up Officer Johnson to obtain money for heroin. During the course of an investigation Sanders was arrested on a warrant for a previous jewelry store robbery. During interrogation he was connected to a separate armed robbery in the 5100 block of West Maypole Avenue and another on Jackson Street. A bullet used in the Jackson Street robbery was connected with the one used in Officer Johnson’s murder. When confronted with this information, Sanders implicated Woods. Both Sanders and Wood stood trial and were acquitted of Officer Johnson’s murder.
Officer Johnson was waked in the House of Branch Funeral Home. He was laid to rest on September 30, 1971 in Restvale Cemetery, 11700 South Laramie Street, Alsip, Illinois.
Patrolman William Henry Johnson, born July 12, 1933, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 1, 1957.
Officer Johnson was survived by his ex-wife, Nellie Lewis (nee Kyle); daughter, Gloria and siblings: John, Lessie and Tillie. He was preceded in death by his parents: Jacob and Minnie (nee Nickerson).