Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 3 months, 1 day
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 3rd Precinct - Desplaines Street Station
District of Incident (Present Day): 012 - Near West
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 29
Date of Birth: 1858
Date of Appointment: 04 Jun 1887
Date of Incident: 012 - Near West
End of Watch: 05 Sep 1887
Date of Interment:
Cemetery: Rosehill Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # A-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 21
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 21
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 34-E: 8
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Probationary Patrolman Philip L. Robinson, Star #777, aged 29 years, was a 3 month, 1 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 3rd Precinct – Desplaines Street Station.
On August 31, 1887, Officer Robinson was on duty when he was met by two citizens. The citizens stated that a man named Chow Lam had fired a gun at them. Officer Robinson began to look for Lam when he observed him fleeing and immediately took up the pursuit. At the Sangamon Street Viaduct near 16th and Halsted Street, Officer Robinson ordered Lam to halt. In response, Lam turned and fired three times at the officer. With all three rounds missing Officer Robinson, he returned fire and continued the chase. Lam then fired a final shot, striking the officer. Officer Robinson was taken to Cook County Hospital where he remained conscious but too weak to talk up until his death. He died five days later at 11:00 p.m. on September 5, 1887 with his wife and two brother officers at his bedside.
Chow Lam was later arrested and sat trembling in his cell at the West Chicago Avenue Station. Lam was convinced that he would be taken out of his cell and hanged before he could appear in court. He was also concerned by the fact that as a Chinaman he would have his head shaved once in prison. This would remove his sacred “queue,” the long braided plait of hair that was essential for men in the Chines culture. Without it he would be barred from any entrance into paradise. Lam stood trial and was acquitted. He claimed he had fired on Officer Robinson on the supposition that the officer was one of a gang of hoodlums who had been abusing him.
Officer Robinson was laid to rest in Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Probationary Patrolman Philip L. Robinson, born in 1858, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 4, 1887.
Officer Robinson was survived by his wife and two children.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #2004.