Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 4 years, 0 months, 3 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Bureau of Field Services - Patrol Division: Unit 051 - Area 1 Task Force
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 26
Date of Birth: 30 Dec 1943
Date of Appointment: 28 Feb 1966
Date of Incident: 03 Mar 1970
End of Watch: 03 Mar 1970
Date of Interment: 07 Mar 1970
Cemetery: St. Mary Catholic Cemetery - Evergreen Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 1018, Block --, Section L
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-5
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 7
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 21
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 53-E: 17
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Thomas J. Kelly, Star #12145, aged 26 years, was a 4 year, 0 month, 3 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Bureau of Field Services – Patrol Division: Unit 051 – Area 1 Task Force.
On March 3, 1970, at 3:15 p.m., Officer Kelly and his partner, Patrolman Thomas C. Neustrom, age 22, were working the third watch on beat 6123. The officers were in full uniform and were driving in their unmarked squad car. They had just began their break and were going to pick up tuxedos for Officer Kelly’s wedding when they observed gang activity. They observed a group of suspicious characters including Charles H. Connolly, age 25 and Frank Luckett, age 19 enter a parked vehicle on South Vincennes Avenue. The officers curbed the vehicle 360 East 44th Street. Both officers proceeded to walk to the driver’s side window and ask the driver, Connolly, for identification. Upon opening his wallet and providing the officers with fake identification, the officers noticed he had two sets of different social security cards and licenses. Officer Kelly began questioning Connolly, as Officer Neustrom searched Luckett and then the vehicle. Officer Kelly asked Connolly if he could search him and he complied. As the officer attempted to search him, Connolly pulled out a gun and fatally shot Officer Kelly. Upon hearing the gunshots, Neustrom was able to draw his weapon but was struck twice before he could return fire. Officer Neustrom pretended to be dead, as Connolly dragged his body out of the vehicle and pressed the gun barrel to his head. As the gunman attempted to pull the trigger again, the gun misfired and did not discharge. Both offenders then fled the scene on foot making good their escape. Officer Kelly was transported to Provident Hospital by beat 270 where he was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Joassin at 3:25 p.m. on March 3, 1970. Officer Neustrom was taken to Michael Reese Hospital by beat 202 where he underwent surgery and made a full recovery.
Connolly and Lucket were discovered later the same day at 6543 South Wood Street. More than 100 police and firemen surrounded the building and fired tear gas through windows. The offenders were placed in custody and charged accordingly. During interviews Connolly denied he was the shooter and accused his accomplice, Frank Luckett of being the shooter. On March 16, 1960, at the age of 14, Connolly had been found guilty of robbing and murdering a man on his front porch. He was sentenced to 25 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary, but had been granted an early release. If not for the early release, Connolly would have still been incarcerated at the time of Officer Kelly’s death.
On September 20, 1970, Charles Connolly was found guilty of Officer Kelly’s murder and guilty of aggravated battery in connection with the shooting of Officer Neustrom. On October 21, 1970, he was sentenced to be executed in the electric chair by Judge Downing. The courts later overturned the death penalty and he was re-sentenced to 75 to 150 years in prison by Judge Fitzgerald. In 2006, Connolly admitted to murdering Officer Kelly and shooting Officer Neustrom at his clemency hearing.
On July 29, 2010, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation chartered a bus and 30 officers in uniform traveled to Springfield for Connolly’s parole hearing. The Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted unanimously to reject his parole request. He was also given the maximum time of three years before he would be up for parole again. Again on September 29, 2013 the Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted unanimously to reject his parole request and ruled that he would not be eligible for parole again until 2018.
Officer Kelly was waked at Sheehy Funeral Home located at 10727 South Pulaski Road. His funeral mass was held at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Catholic Church located at 125 West 5th Street, Mount Carmel, Illinois. He was laid to rest on March 7, 1970 in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery, 3801 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 1018, Block –, Section L.
Patrolman Thomas J. Kelly, born December 30, 1943, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on February 28, 1966. He earned 1 Superintendent’s Award of Valor (posthumously), 1 Police Blue Star Award (posthumously) and 20 Honorable Mentions during his career.
Officer Kelly served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from June 24, 196 until his death and he was Honorably Discharged. He was also a member of the Illinois Police Association, Fraternal Order of Police and the St. Jude Police League. Officer Kelly was survived by his fiancée, Joanna Polo; parents: John Joseph, age 54 and Ann F. (nee Izzo), age 56; siblings: Jack (CPD), Robert (CPD) and a sister (CPD) and grandparents: Carmen Izzo and Mary Izzo.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #J081768.