Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 2 years, 7 months, 17 day
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 20 - Warren
District of Incident (Present Day): 008 - Chicago Lawn
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 25
Date of Birth: 23 Aug 1899
Date of Appointment: 27 Oct 1922
Date of Incident: 008 - Chicago Lawn
End of Watch: 13 Jun 1925
Date of Interment: 16 Jun 1925
Cemetery: Mount Olive Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 2, Lot N 15, Block 5, Section 7
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-9
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 21
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 14
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 36-E: 3
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Harold F. Olson, Star #2911, aged 25 years, was a 2 year, 7 month, 17 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 20 – Warren, detailed to Detective Division – Ford Squad 8-C.
On June 13, 1925, at 9:30 a.m., Officer Olson was on patrol with Sergeant Conway, Patrolmen Charles B. Walsh and William Sweeney. They had been on the lookout for a Cadillac driving around with mobsters, Samoots Amatuna, Albert Anselmi, Michael Genna and Giovanni “John” Scalice, broadcast in an all-points bulletin. The men were wanted as they had just attempted to assassinate one of their rivals in their role as hit men for Al Capone. While on patrol, they spotted the Cadillac at 47th Street and Western Avenue. The mobsters also spotted them and fled at a high rate of speed. A pursuit was initiated and just as soon as the chase began, the driver of the Cadillac took a corner too fast and lost control. The Cadillac crashed into a light pole in front of 5940 South Western Avenue. The officers right on their tale leapt from their squad car and ran towards the crashed auto. As the four gangsters exited the car, they opened fire on the officers as they attempted to escape. A gun battle ensued and Officers Olson and Walsh were hit almost immediately collapsing to the pavement mortally wounded. Sergeant Conway was also hit, going down as well. Officer Sweeney was the only one left to battle the gangsters. Backup eventually came after Patrolmen George Oakley and Albert Rickey were passing by on a streetcar and observed the shootout happening. They joined the fight by hailing a taxicab and instructed the driver to take the injured officers to St. Bernard Hospital. They then returned to join the fight as Officer Sweeney was now in a foot pursuit with the gangsters.
As Officer Sweeney chased Genna, Genna attempted to fire but his gun malfunctioned. Genna continued to run towards 59th Street and Artesian Avenue when Officer Sweeney fired and hit him causing him to stumble and fall down. Although gravely wounded, Genna was able to crawl and climbed through a basement window in the rear of 5941 South Artesian Avenue. Officer Sweeney continued the chase following Anselmi and Scalice while Officer Rickey followed Genna into the basement. Rickert entered the basement and found Genna lying in a pool of blood with a femoral arterial bleed coming from his thigh. Officer Rickert summoned an ambulance and Genna was transported to a hospital, dying en route.
At this point news of the shooting had reached districts across the city. Units responded to the scene from all over the city. One of the cars that responded heard the gunshots of the running gun battle and observed Officer Sweeney pursuing Anselmi and Scalice just as they jumped onto a Westbound streetcar. Sergeant Stapleton ordered the driver of the squad car to pull alongside the streetcar and the Sergeant jumped on board apprehending the two gangsters. That left one gangster unaccounted for, Amatuna, had fled the scene just after the Cadillac crashed before the gunfire erupted.
On June 15, 1925, Anselmi and Scalice were turned over to the Cook County Sheriff after being indicted. Anselmi and Scalice stood trial and were found guilty for the murder of Officer Olsen and were acquitted for the murder of Officer Walsh. On December 5, 1925, both men were sentenced to 14 years each in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge Brothers. Anselmi and Scalice were granted a second trial on appeal. Their attorney argued justifiable homicide as their defense. He claimed that the men were simply defending themselves against “unwarranted police aggression.” Their attorney asserted that it was no crime to kill a cop if one is detained against his will or a weapon is drawn against him, situations in which he maintained the men should not be answerable to the law. On December 3, 1926 both sentences were reversed and remanded by Supreme Court Justice Lindsay. On June 23, 1927, during a new trial they were acquitted by Judge Lindsay. Anselmi and Scalice were later murdered by Al Capone in May 1929. They were found dead on the side of a road in Indiana beaten to death. The two men were hit men for Al Capone when they murdered Patrolmen Olsen and Walsh.
Officer Olson was waked at his residence located at 6308 South Rockwell Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Rita Cascia Catholic Church located at 6243 South Fairfield Avenue. He was laid to rest on June 16, 1925 in Mount Olive Cemetery, 3800 North Narragansett Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 2, Lot N 15, Block 5, Section 7.
Patrolman Harold F. Olson, August 23, 1899, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 27, 1922.
Officer Olson was a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association. He was survived by his parents: Adolf and Gertrude (nee Healy) and siblings: John, Lester, Raymond, Robert and Walter.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #8732.
In December of 1923 the Ford Squad was assigned to the Detective Division and detailed to patrol two districts. The cars were manned by four men in plainclothes with two shotguns. They patrolled 24 hours a day in eight hour shifts.