Constable James Quinn

Constable James Quinn








Name: Quinn, James
Star: 9
Rank: Constable
District / Unit: Ward 9
End of Watch: 05-Dec-1853
Incident Details: Constable James Quinn succumbed to injuries sustained during two previous incidents in which he was attacked and severely beaten while in the discharge of his duties.The first attack occurred on Friday night, December 2, 1853, after Quinn, armed with a warrant, had arrested a man for theft in a notorious criminal hideout known as "The Sands." Quinn was escorting his prisoner to the Watch House when the prisoner asked Quinn if he could return to the place on the Sands in which he had been arrested to fetch his coat. As the Constable walked the prisoner back inside, ostensibly to get his coat, the establishment's owner, a notoriously violent man, attacked the Constable, breaking his ribs and injuring his jaw. During this altercation the prisoner escaped.

The following evening an arrest warrant was delivered to Constable Quinn ordering him to find and arrest the escapee. He returned to the Sands to conduct his search and again came upon the individual who had assaulted him the previous evening. He attacked Quinn, threw him to the ground and kicked him several times, fracturing additional ribs and puncturing the Constable's lung.

Duty bound, and despite his injuries, Quinn reported back to the Watch House Sunday morning for the 0500 end of watch roll call. Quinn briefed the Captain of the Night Watch who ordered his entire 26 man Night Watch to return to the Sands to search for and arrest both the original escapee and Quinn's attacker. By mid-morning, both were in custody.

Constable Quinn's condition worsened throughout Sunday causing congestion of the brain. He succumbed to the injuries the following day, Monday, December 5, 1853.

In February of 1854, Quinn's killer was tried, convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison for manslaughter.

Constable Quinn had been elected Constable of the Ninth Ward only 9 months earlier. In 1853, the Constable served a dual role as Constable and police officer during the early stages of the Chicago Police Department.

Constable Quinn's widow was compensated $50 by the city after the City Council's Committee on Police and the Committee on the Judiciary concurred that Quinn was killed "during the discharge of his duties as an honest and faithful officer of the city."

In 2007, a panel of seven professional historians from the Chicago History Museum reviewed all of the evidence in this case and unanimously found that Quinn "died as the result of injuries he suffered in the line of duty." These historians concluded, "We can say with certainty that Constable Quinn is the earliest known Chicago Police Officer to die in the line of duty."