Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 19 years, 7 months, 27 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Bureau of Operational Services - Patrol Division: Unit 052 - Area 2 Task Force
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Crash - Motorcycle
Age at Time of Death: 40
Date of Birth: 13 Aug 1927
Date of Appointment: 01 Mar 1959
Date of Incident: 13 May 1968
End of Watch: 28 Oct 1978
Date of Interment: 31 Oct 1978
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 4, Lot 16, Block 1, Section 23
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-6
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 14
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall:
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall:
Officer Down Memorial Page: Not Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman James Patrick Sweeney, Star #4897, aged 40 years, was a 19 year, 7 month, 27 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Bureau of Operational Services – Patrol Division: Unit 052 – Area 2 Task Force.
On May 13, 1968, Officer Sweeney, along with several other officers, were assigned to transport several police motorcycles from the Kenmore Garage located at 2938 East 89th Street to the Area 4 Garage. The motorcycle were being moved in anticipation of the opening of the Chicago City beaches. While en route to the Area 4 Garage, they were traveling Southbound on Lake Shore Drive at 31st Street when the left rear wheel of Officer Sweeney’s 3-wheel police motorcycle #6307 fell off. Officer Sweeney’s motorcycle began to drift over to the median strip, throwing him from the motorcycle into oncoming traffic. The motorcycle then rolled over him. He struck the pavement and suffered multiple injuries including a skull fracture, even though he was wearing a helmet, a ruptured spleen, nerve injury to the 6th and 7th cranial nerves, fracture to the left clavicle, fractures to the 5th and 6th ribs and multiple contusions and lacerations. The other officers immediately stopped and rendered aid. Officer Sweeney was transported to Michael Reese Hospital by CFD. He went into a coma and had surgery several times due to internal bleeding and remained in intensive care for six weeks. On October 13, 1968, Officer Sweeney was discharged from the hospital. He became partially paralyzed and one eye was stitched closed, in addition to having an open draining incision on his abdomen. He was also diagnosed with Jacksonian Epilepsy due to the head trauma he sustained in the crash. The results of the accident were so profound that he would require constant medical attention for the rest of his life.
Officer Sweeney was 40 years old at the time of the incident. The injuries he sustained forced him onto the Disability Pension Roll (DPR) on June 6, 1969. On November 16, 1970, Officer Sweeney was re-appointed to the Department and placed on desk duty. On October 29, 1978, Officer Sweeney entered the emergency room at Michael Reese Hospital, where he suffered a seizure and died from complications resulting from his line of duty injury.
An investigation into the crash determined that the repair shop failed to properly maintain the motorcycle.
Officer Sweeney was waked at Kenny Brothers Funeral Home located at 3600 95th Street, Evergreen Park, Illinois. His funeral mass was held at Queen of Martyrs Church located at 10233 South Central Park Avenue. He was laid to rest on October 31, 1978 in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Alsip, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 4, Lot 16, Block 1, Section 23.
Patrolman James Patrick Sweeney, born August 13, 1927, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on March 1, 1959.
Officer Sweeney was survived by his ex-wife, Mary Denise (nee Brizich); children: Catherine M., James P., Kevin P., Mary Denise, Patrick E. and Patrick T.; mother: Margaret (nee McHugh) and brother, John M. (CPD). He was preceded in death by his father, Michael.
On February 20, 2008, Officer Sweeney’s star was retired by Superintendent Jody P. Weis and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.