Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 8 years, 8 months, 25 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 3, 3rd Precinct - Cottage Grove
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 41
Date of Birth: 11 Jul 1878
Date of Appointment: 31 Aug 1911
Date of Incident: 002 - Wentworth
End of Watch: 25 May 1920
Date of Interment: 20 May 1920
Cemetery: Walnut Ridge Cemetery - Jeffersonville, Indiana
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-6
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 22
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 1
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 41-E: 10
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman William R. King, Star #417, aged 41 years, was an 8 year, 8 month, 25 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 3, 3rd Precinct – Cottage Grove.
On May 25, 1920, at 3:37 p.m., Patrolman William R. King responded to a call of a man causing a disturbance on a street car. Upon arriving at the scene, Officer King removed the troublemaker, Freeland Bettis, from the streetcar and placed him under arrest. Officer King then led Bettis to a patrol box located at the Southeast corner of 37th and State Streets. While the officer was placing a call to the station for a patrol wagon he turned his back to Bettis. Bettis took advantage of this and removed a gun from his coat and fired upon Officer King from behind. Bettis then fled the scene making good his escape. Officer King was hit and succumbed to his wounds dying at 4:05 p.m. the same day.
Responding officers were able to track Bettis down to his home located at 3538 South State Street. He was apprehended a short time after the shooting. He claimed he had nothing to do with the shooting and had discarded the murder weapon. However, statements from witnesses left little doubt of his guilt. On May 25, 1920, Bettis was held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner. On March 10, 1921, he was found guilty and sentenced to life in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge Kersten.
Officer King was laid to rest on May 20, 1920 in Walnut Ridge Cemetery, 2421 Hamburg Pike, Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Patrolman William R. King, born July 11, 1878, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on August 31, 1911.
Officer King was survived by his wife.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #4177.