Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 21 years, 11 months, 27 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 31st District - Cragin
District of Incident (Present Day): 025 - Grand Central
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 47
Date of Birth: 12 May 1880
Date of Appointment: 09 Apr 1906
Date of Incident: 025 - Grand Central
End of Watch: 05 Apr 1928
Date of Interment: 09 Apr 1928
Cemetery: Bohemian National Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-11
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 16
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 22
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 21-W: 1
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Sergeant John Chiska, Star #888, aged 47 years, was a 21 year, 11 month, 27 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 31st District – Cragin.
On April 5, 1928, 9:35 a.m., Sergeant Chiska, head of the plainclothes detail at the Cragin Police Station, had been on duty for only five minutes when he received a complaint about loiterers. The complainant, Kasimir Wiejaczka, the owner of a candy store located at 2118 North Laurel Street called the station to report three men lurking outside the store. Sergeant Chiska, working in plainclothes, got into his squad car and responded to the scene without backup. Upon arrival at the candy store, Mr. Wiejaczka pointed out three men across the street in front of 2216 North Lorel Avenue. Sergeant Chiska walked across the street and when he arrived. Upon confronting the men, two of the men, Stanley Walker and Joseph Papciak announced a robbery, attempting to rob the Sergeant. Sergeant Chiska announced his office and placed two of the men in custody, but was taken by surprise when a third man, Steve Cygan, alias Debs, drew a pistol and fired on him. Sergeant Chiska was struck in his right hand, the bullet passing through and striking him again in the abdomen. He fell to the sidewalk falling unconscious. As Sergeant Chiska lay on the sidewalk helpless Cygan fired three more shots into him before the men jumped into a vehicle and sped away. Witnesses observed the men switch cars down the street from the crime before fleeing. As the bandits fled, Sergeant Chiska was rushed to Keystone Hospital located at 1623 North Kostner Avenue. While at the hospital, he received multiple blood transfusions with blood donated by fellow officers. Due to the heroic efforts of the Chicago Fire Department’s Squad 6, they kept him alive using a pulmotor. Unfortunately, their efforts to stabilize him were unsuccessful and he succumbed to his injuries at 2:15 p.m. on April 5, 1928.
On April 12, 1928, two of the men, Stanley Walker and Joseph Papciak, were arrested and on April 13th held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner. On April 28, 1928, Walker and Papciak were booked for the murder of Sergeant Chiska. On April 29, 1928, the Coroner recommended the arrest of Steve Cygan, whom Walker and Papciak implicated as the last of the trio. Steve Cygan was apprehended, stood trial and found guilty of the murder of Sergeant Chiska. He was sentenced to death by electrocution to be carried out on June 16, 1939. His execution was stayed by Governor Henry Horner to July 21, 1931 for appeal to the Supreme Court, which was denied. On October 13, 1939, Cygan was executed in the electric chair at Cook County Jail. On November 26, 1928, the case against Walker was nolle prossed. On the same day Papciak was found guilty and he was sentenced to 20 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge J. Sullivan.
Sergeant Chiska was waked at his residence located at 3418 South Springfield Avenue. His funeral mass was held at the Lawndale Masonic Temple located at 2300 South Millard Avenue. He was laid to rest on April 9, 1928 in Bohemian National Cemetery, 5255 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois.
Sergeant John Chiska, born May 12, 1880, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 9, 1906 and issued Star # Unknown. On February 13, 1914, he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Class Detective Sergeant, his title being officially changed by order of the city council on January 11, 1915. On April 1, 1914, he was issued a Detective Sergeant Star # Unknown. On June 28, 1921, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and issued Star #888. He earned 1 Credible Mention during his career.
Sergeant Chiska was a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association, Polacki Lodge No. 630 Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Master Mason and a member of Oriental Lodge No. 33 AF&AM and the Marnot Haftic Club. He was survived by his wife, Rose (nee Belsky), age 43; children: Loretta, age 11 and Lucille, age 13; mother, Marie and siblings: Edward, Frank and William.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #9653.