Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 5 years, 11 months, 20 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 15th District - Englewood
District of Incident (Present Day): 007 - Englewood
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 36
Date of Birth: 24 Jan 1892
Date of Appointment: 27 Oct 1922
Date of Incident: 007 - Englewood
End of Watch: 16 Sep 1928
Date of Interment: 19 Sep 1928
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 2, Lot 43, Block 5, Section 10
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-12
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 22
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 24
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 21-E: 6
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman James Joseph O’Brien, Star #1544, aged 36 years, was a 5 year, 11 month, 20 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 15th District – Englewood.
On September 14, 1928, at 1:45 a.m., Officer O’Brien while on patrol with his partner, Patrolman Raymond Nelligan, observed a wanted auto thief, Ray C. Bullard, at the Southwest corner of 62nd and Halsted Streets. As Officer O’Brien attempted to make the arrest, the thief produced a revolver and fired several shots wounding both officers. Bullard was also wounded by the officers return fire but escaped. Both officers were taken to St. Bernard Hospital. Officer O’Brien died two days later on September 16, 1928. Officer Nelligan eventually recovered but endured a long recovery from the chest wound he sustained.
Three hours after the shooting, police received a call reporting a man fitting Bullard’s description seeking medical treatment at a doctor’s office in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Captain of Detectives John Egan ordered a patrol car to go to the doctor’s office and apprehend the man. Upon arrival, Bullard surrendered and confessed to the murder while in police custody.
On September 17, 1928, Bullard was held by the Coroner to the Grand Jury, which indicted him for murder. On February 2, 1929, Bullard was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge Kavanaugh.
Officer O’Brien was laid to rest on September 19, 1928 in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Alsip, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 2, Lot 43, Block 5, Section 10.
Patrolman James Joseph O’Brien, born January 24, 1892, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 27, 1922. He earned 2 Credible Mentions during his career. On October 31, 1926, Officer O’Brien shot and wounded the murderer, Stanley Gracyas, of Sergeant Floyd Beardsley.
Officer O’Brien was survived by his wife, Mary (nee Griffin) and five children: John Joseph, age 2, Joseph Robert, age 7.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #10719.