Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 7 years, 8 months, 3 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: 38
Date of Birth: 07 Apr 1890
Date of Appointment: 12 Nov 1920
Date of Incident: 007 - Englewood
End of Watch: 04 Jun 1928
Date of Interment: 07 Jun 1928
Cemetery: Calvary Cemetery - Evanston, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 16, Block 4, Section L
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-11
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 11
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 23
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 14-W: 14
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Army
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman William Allen O’Connor, Star #3470, aged 38 years, was a 7 year, 7 month, 3 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 15th District – Englewood.
On June 3, 1928, at 11:18 p.m., Officer O’Connor had just finished his shift and, while off duty, was walking home when a patron of Harold Grady’s “soft drink” parlor located at 7135 South Halsted Street approached him. The patron had managed to escape from the soft drink parlor and reported a robbery in progress to the officer. He went on to say that the robbers had lined all of the patrons up and gone down the line robbing each of them. While the robbers were in the process of robbing Harold Grady of $70.00, he snuck out to get help. Officer O’Connor followed the patron back to the soft drink parlor and just as he was about to enter with his pistol drawn, the robbers made their exit.
The robbers, Edward Demker, John Dempsey and Alfred Malette, were responsible for a series of robberies on the Southside that evening when the officer encountered them. One of the robbers struck the officer on the head with the butt of his gun and a struggle ensued between the two. During the struggle, the robber fired his gun striking Officer O’Connor in the head. The robber then broke free and ran off with his accomplices. Amazingly, while shot in the head, Officer O’Connor gave chase exchanging gunfire with the robbers. At 7143 South Halsted Street, Officer O’Connor was struck again, mortally wounded, and he collapsed to the sidewalk. Patrolman O’Connor was transported to Englewood Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:00 a.m. on June 4, 1928.
In an ironic turn of events, Officer O’Connor was supposed to be on furlough June 1, 1928, but was asked to delay it so he could be available to work the upcoming elections on June 4, 1928.
On June 14, 1928, Edward Demker, John Dempsey and Alfred Malette were all apprehended, confessed to the crime and booked for murder. After being fully identified and signing their confessions they were turned over to the Sheriff. All three were found to be responsible for over two dozen other robberies. On August 7, 1928, Dempsey and Demker were each sentenced to 50 years and Malette to 20 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet, by Judge David. On October 26, 1928, Dempsey, the actual killer; escaped from Judge John J. Sullivan’s court room, having been brought there to testify on behalf of two men on trial for robbery. On October 10, 1931, Dempsey was captured in Las Vegas, Nevada and extradited back to the prison by Illinois Department of Correction Authorities.
Officer O’Connor was waked at his residence located at 914 West 68th Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Brendan Catholic Church located at 6714 South Racine Avenue. He was laid to rest on June 7, 1928 in Calvary Cemetery, 301 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 16, Block 4, Section L.
Patrolman William Allen O’Connor, born April 7, 1890, received a Temporary Appointment, #805, to the Chicago Police Department on August 8, 1919 and was issued Star #1350. He received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on November 12, 1920 and was issued Star #3470. He earned 6 Credible Mentions and 2 Extra Compensations for Meritorious Conduct totaling $300.00 during his career.
Officer O’Connor served in the U.S. Army from February 5, 1918 thru July 12, 1919 in 413th Motor Supply Train / 435th Company, was a veteran of World War I and was Honorably Discharged at the rank of Corporal. He served 18 months in France during the war. Officer O’Connor was also a member of the Chicago Police Post No. 207 American Legion and the Police Benevolent & Protective Association. He was survived by his wife, Clara (nee Wellert); mother, Margaret (nee Sullivan) and siblings: Charles (CPD), Eugene (CPD), George (CPD), Grace Hoff, Mary J. Carr and Joseph (CPD).
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #10710.