Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 3 years*
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 1st Precinct - South Branch Station
District of Incident (Present Day): 009 - Deering
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 38
Date of Birth: 1834
Date of Appointment: 1869
Date of Incident: 009 - Deering
End of Watch: 05 Aug 1872
Date of Interment:
Cemetery: Calvary Cemetery - Evanston, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # A-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 13
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 5
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 37-E: 6
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Patrick O’Meara, Star #94, aged 38 years, was a 3 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 1st Precinct – South Branch Station.
On August 5, 1872, at 12:30 a.m., Officer O’Meara and his partner, Patrolman James Scanlon, were assigned to execute an arrest warrant for Christopher Rafferty who was wanted for battery. While canvassing the taverns in the neighborhood, they were able to locate Rafferty sitting inside Daniel O’Brien’s Saloon located at No. 1466 South Halsted Street (present day 1466 South Halsted Street) near Douglas Place (present day 14th Place). Officer O’Meara guarded the front door to prevent Rafferty’s escape, while Officer Scanlon served the warrant. Officer Scanlon approached Rafferty who was sitting at a table in the back of the room. As Scanlon approached Rafferty said to Officer O’Meara “will you have a cigar?“ At the same time Rafferty took one from his pant pocket. O’Meara replied that he did not wish one just then. Officer Scanlon then told Rafferty that he had a warrant for him. Rafferty asked, “What is it for?“ Scanlon replied “I don’t know“ and Rafferty then said “read it to me.“ Scanlon read the warrant to Rafferty and Rafferty then said, “Well, if I must go, I must. You will let me get my coat, won’t you?“ Scanlon replied “certainly“ and started toward the door. After advancing a few feet, Rafferty, pulled a large navy revolver from his bootleg, and aimed at Officer O’Meara. O’Meara, seeing this, said, “don’t shoot.“ But before O’Meara could get the words out, Rafferty had pulled the trigger and O’Meara fell to the floor shot in the left breast. Rafferty then turned towards Officer Scanlon and fired one shot at him. Scanlon was able to duck behind the end of the counter and the shot went through his coat. There were four other patrons in the tavern at the time of the shooting. Hearing the commotion the patrons jumped up and fled for the door to reach safety. Rafferty was knocked down to the floor, either by the patrons running out or he had fallen by himself. Officer Scanlon seeing Rafferty prostrate on the floor rushed him as Rafferty took aim again and attempted to fire as Officer Scanlon grabbed the gun. The bullet would have certainly struck Scanlon in the head as he was in close quarters with it as Rafferty pulled the trigger, but Scanlon’s little finger was in the way and the hammer struck it. The two men struggled on the floor and Officer Scanlon continually hit Rafferty in the head with his Billy club while holding Rafferty’s hand and gun down with his other hand. Rafferty was able to break free and fled out the front door of the tavern. Scanlon pursued, but as he exited the tavern he tripped over some beer kegs lying on the sidewalk and fell into a ditch. When Scanlon regained his foothold Rafferty had disappeared.
Officer Scanlon yelled for help the entire time he fought with Rafferty, but the tavern patrons just watched as they were of the same ilk as Rafferty. Scanlon went back into the tavern to find Officer O’Meara still clinging to life. A physician was summoned, but Officer O’Meara expired prior to his arrival. Officer O’Meara was removed to No. 98 Deering Street (present day 238 South Loomis Street) where he had resided with his wife and seven children.
On August 5, 1872, Detectives received a telegraphic notification from a well posted individual residing in a small town immediately outside the Southwestern city limits, informing them that Rafferty had passed through there on foot in the morning. Detectives Simmons and Elliot were instructed to take two men with them and board the $30.00 Joliet accommodation train. They selected Sergeant Fitzpatrick and Officer Mahoney from the Harrison Street Station. Ex-Superintendent Kennedy also accompanied the men. The men got off the train in Willow Springs and began their manhunt. The men split into three groups and Rafferty was located walking just off the main road by Office Mahoney and a hired wagon man. Rafferty was taken into custody and willingly got into the wagon and was transported back to the city.
On September 4, 1872, Christopher Rafferty was indicted by the Grand Jury for murder. At his arraignment, Rafferty pleaded not guilty and his attorney requested a change of venue, which was granted and moved to Lake County, Waukegan, Illinois. On September 10, 1872, Rafferty was found guilty of first-degree murder and recommended to hang until dead. On October 14, 1872, Rafferty was sentenced to hang on October 4, 1872 by Judge Tree. Rafferty appealed and was granted a second trial and was again convicted and sentenced to hang on March 7, 1873. Rafferty once again appealed to the Illinois Supreme court and was granted a third trial and was again convicted and sentenced to hang. On February 27, 1874, Rafferty was hanged for Patrolman O’Meara’s murder in Waukegan, Illinois. Rafferty was the first person executed for the murder of a Chicago Police Officer.
Officer O’Meara was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery, 301 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.
Patrolman Patrick O’Meara, born in 1834, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department in 1869.
Officer O’Meara was survived by his wife, Julia and children: James, age 3, John, age 11, Katherine, age 9, Thomas, age 4 and William, age 5.
Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database case not found for this incident.
On December 18, 1957, Officer O’Meara’s star was retired by Commissioner Timothy J. O’Connor and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the 4th floor Office of the Superintendent at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. The Honored Star Case was later relocated to the lobby of Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer O’Meara’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.