Sergeant James L. Severin #1319

sgt-james-severin-1319-75
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.