Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 9 years, 0 months, 14 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 22nd District - Morgan Park
District of Incident (Present Day): 022 - Morgan Park
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 38
Date of Birth: 18 Nov 1960
Date of Appointment: 26 Dec 1989
Date of Incident: 022 - Morgan Park
End of Watch: 09 Jan 1999
Date of Interment: 13 Jan 1999
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-8
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 11
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 4, Line 27
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 42-E: 21
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: Did Not Serve
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John Charles Knight, Star #5119, aged 38 years, was a 9 year, 0 month, 14 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 22nd District – Morgan Park Tactical Unit.
On January 9, 1999, at 2:50 p.m., Officer Knight, and his partner, Patrolman James E. Butler, age 36, were working the third watch on beat 2261B. The officers observed a brown 1986 Chevy Caprice parked on 99th Street near Normal Avenue, which they suspected to be stolen. They noticed the vehicle had a popped trunk lock which was indicative of a stolen vehicle. Two males occupied the car, James Scott, age 23, of 9601 South Lowe Avenue. in the driver’s seat and his passenger, who had slid down in their seats in an attempt to not be seen by the officers. The officers pulled behind the vehicle in their unmarked squad car and got out. The Caprice then took off speeding the wrong way down 99th Street. Officers Butler and Knight got back into their car, activated their lights and siren, and pursued the vehicle. At 9900 South Parnell Avenue, approximately a half block away, the Caprice crashed into a Buick Regal being driven by an off duty Illinois State Police trooper.
The occupants of the car exited the vehicle and fled on foot, just as the officers pulled up. As the officers attempted to exit their squad car, Scott turned and opened fire shooting multiple rounds. The rounds went through the front passenger window and struck Officer Knight. He was struck twice in the head and once in the abdomen before he was able to exit the passenger side of the vehicle. Officer Butler returned fire and was able to hit Scott, grazing his face and striking his hip. Scott collapsed to the ground and thinking he was down, Officer Butler then ran to the aid of his partner. Scott reloaded his weapon and opened fire again, striking Officer Butler in the buttock causing him to collapse to the ground. Scott then walked over to Officer Butler and tried to shoot him twice more, but the gun did not discharge and he then fled on foot making good his escape. Officer Knight was transported to Christ Hospital and Medical Center by CFD Ambulance #5 where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Fogelson at 3:32 p.m. on January 9, 1999. Officer Butler was also transported to Christ Hospital and Medical Center by CFD Ambulance #37 where he was treated and released.
On January 9, 1999, at 5:45 p.m., Scott was arrested at 9806 South Eggleston Avenue after detectives followed a blood trail in the snow. Scott was three times, once in the left cheek, once in the left chest and once in the left thigh. The handgun used was a Sturm Ruger 9mm semiautomatic with a laser scope.
On January 27, 2004, Officer Knight’s killer was found guilty of 1st degree murder. He was also charged and found guilty of attempted 1st degree murder of Officer Butler. On January 28, 2004, during the penalty phase of the trial, a plea agreement was reached. Scott pled guilty to an unrelated murder and waived his right to appeal his conviction in Officer Knight’s case. James Scott is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder of Officer Knight and the attempted murder of Officer Butler.
Officer Knight’s wake was held at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home located at 4727 West 103rd Street, Oak Lawn, Illinois. His funeral mass was held at St. Christina Catholic Church. He was laid to rest on January 13, 1999 in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Alsip, Illinois.
Patrolman John Charles Knight, born November 18, 1960, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on December 26, 1989. He earned 1 Special Honorable Mention for the Carter Harrison Award, 2 Department Commendations, 17 Honorable Mentions and 1 Complementary Letter during his career.
Officer Knight was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the St. Jude Police League. He was survived by his wife, Joan Therese (nee Ciukaj); children: Brian James, age 6, Lauren Jessica, age 5 and Matthew John, age 7; parents: Anna Marie (nee Heffernan) and Charles L. (CPD); siblings: Charles, Mary McAvoy and Stephen.
Incident Recorded Under Chicago Police Department RD #D014881.
On July 14, 1988, prior to joining the Chicago Police Department, Officer Knight was a Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy. He was on duty and attempted to serve an eviction notice to a former Chicago Police Officer who had mental health issues. During that incident, Chicago Police Officer, Patrolman Bernard W. Domagala was shot and suffered life altering injuries which would later take his life on September 5, 2017.
On March 25, 1999, Officer Knight’s star was retired by Superintendent Terry G. Hillard and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer Knight’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.
On July 1, 1999, H.R. Bill 242: Law Enforcement Official Protection and Officer John C. Knight Memorial Act of 1999 was introduced by U.S. Representative Rod Blagojevich. The purpose of the bill was to amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to regulate the sale and manufacture of certain armor piercing ammunition and armor piercing incendiary ammunition, and to regulate laser sights under the National Firearms Act. The bill was not passed and died in Congress.
Sometime between January 1999 and 2007, the 11100 block of South Central Park Avenue was dedicated as “Honorary Officer John C. Knight Way.” Two brown honorary street signs were erected. One on the Southwest corner of 112th Street and Central Park Avenue and the other on the Northwest corner of 112th Place and Central Park Avenue in the heart of the Mt. Greenwood community where Officer Knight lived.
Note: The photo of Officer Knight is of him wearing his previously assigned star number #9980. At the time of the incident his assigned star number was #5119.