Name: Severin, James L.
Star: 1319
Memorial Panel #: #PANEL#
Rank: Sergeant
District / Unit: Damen Avenue Task Force
End of Watch: 17 July 1970
Incident Details: Sergeant James Severin, 38, was a 13-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Damen Avenue Task Force. On July 17, 1970, Sergeant James Severin and his partner, Officer Anthony Rizzato, had volunteered for the “Walk and Talk” project. The program was designed to cultivate community relations between Chicago Police Officers and residents of the Cabrini-Green housing complex. As the officers walked across Seward Park’s baseball field at Cabrini-Green they became the victims of sniper shootings. Officers Rizzato and Severin were shot in their backs by high-powered rifles which erupted from two CHA buildings. Officers Dennis Jurkowski, Bob Sargus, Curtis Crisler, and Sergeant Edward Stetter drove into the middle of the baseball field under a hail of sniper fire to recover the bodies of their fellow officers. Officer Rizzato and Sergeant Severin were transported to Henrotin Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival. Four people were charged and arrested for the officers’ murders-George C. Knight, 23; Johnnie Veal, 18; Vernon R. Baker, 14; Sidney Bennett, Jr., 18. Knight and Veal were both found guilty of first-degree murder and were each sentenced to 100 to 199 years in prison. Baker’s charges were dropped in 1972. Bennett confessed to the murders, but was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. In 1975, Bennett shot and killed a man while working as an armed security guard. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to serve 1 to 5 years in prison. Sergeant James Severin’s funeral service was held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and he was laid to rest in All Saints Cemetery. He is survived by his mother, Catherine; and his siblings, Catherine, William, and Joan.


  • I appreciate your service Sergent. I shall not forget your sacrafice. — t evans 03/21/2008

  • Dear Uncle Jim, Your path was peace. The family continues to honor your, and Tony Rizzato’s memory – next week we’ll again be protesting parole for one of your killers.
    Your path was peace. The family continues to honor your, and Tony Rizzato’s memory – next week we’ll again be protesting parole for one of your killers. You will never be forgotten. With love, — Mary Severin – Niece 08/15/08

  • My dear Uncle, Your life was cut short, however your memory will live on forever with those who loved you and miss you still today. You brought happiness and peace.

  • Your sacrifice will… Never Be Forgotten

  • Another three year set on the parole hearings….thank you to all that assist our family in this ordeal which is now pulling the third generation of Sgt. Jim Severin’s family in our never ending battle to keep these criminals jailed. My US Marine son, Dan attended this year. Thank you for keeping us in the family all these decades. We will never forget.

  • 47 years ago…… We are still honoring you Uncle Jim by not missing one parole hearing. We have two more parole hearings in 2017. The Severins will never forget. The Severins will always attend the parole hearings until both offenders die in prison.

  • 46 years since your murder and we are still faithfully attending parole hearings for Knights and Veal. Until my last breath (or rather their last breath) as by attending, we honor you.

  • Just found out that not only my Uncle, Jim Severin was killed in the line of duty but also my great-uncle and his son: Emmitt Laughlin and Dennis Laughlin. My Aunt Joan who was Jim’s twin remembers attending both of the Laughlin funerals in 1939 and 1960, followed by her own brother in 1970. My grandmother’s sister was married to Emmitt Laughlin.

  • We have succeeded in getting a 5 year set from the Illinois Parole Board for Clifford Knights. This will be the first time we will be able to forget about a parole hearing for a 5 year stretch. Thank you all that testified, attended and wrote letters.

  • Jeanne Severin Cabel, it is a crime that your family has to go thru these parole hearings. But it is a wonderful tribute to your uncle that you do this, I am sure that he is proud. I don’t know you, and I’m proud of you, too.

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We Will Never Forget