Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 7 years, 2 months, 2 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Bureau of Operational Services - Special Operations Group: Unit 765 - Public Housing Division North
District of Incident (Present Day): 011 - Harrison
Cause of Death: Struck - By Vehicle
Age at Time of Death: 32
Date of Birth: 01 Apr 1951
Date of Appointment: 26 Apr 1976
Date of Incident: 28 Jun 1983
End of Watch: 28 Jun 1983
Date of Interment: 02 Jul 1983
Cemetery: Resurrection Catholic Cemetery - Justice, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 3, Lot 7, Block 117, Section 63
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-7
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 9
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 38
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 38-E: 1
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: Did Not Serve
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Wayne John Klacza, Star #16469, aged 32 years, was a 7 year, 2 month, 2 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Bureau of Operational Services – Special Operations Group: Unit 765 – Public Housing Division North.
On June 28, 1983, at 5:58 p.m., Officer Klacza was working 10-99 on beat 2979B. He was leaving the Area 4 Headquarters located at 3151 West Harrison Street to pick up a squad car before going to his regular assignment. While outside Officer Klacza observed a hearing impaired man, Jackie Coffey, age 33, of 513 South Francisco Avenue, crossing the street at 3148 West Harrison Street. At the same time he observed a 1978 Chevy Camaro driving erratically. The car driven by Sandra F. Little, age 25, of 956 North Kildare Avenue, swerved into the wrong lane of traffic and headed toward Mr. Coffey. Officer Klacza pushed Mr. Coffey to safety and was himself struck by the vehicle. He landed on the hood of the vehicle striking his head and was then thrown aproximatly 50 feet from the car. The car then fled the scene of the crash. Other officers pursued Little for about two blocks before she crashed into a utility pole and some parked cars at 3010 West Harrison Street. Officer Klacza sustained severe head trauma in the crash. Little sustained a fractured left arm in the crash and several “joints“ of marijuana laced with an animal tranquilizer were recovered from her car. Officer Klacza was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Wong at 6:56 p.m. on June 28, 1983. Coincidentally, the day of his death was also his wife’s birthday.
Little was arrested and charged with reckless homicide, possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence of narcotics. She was held on a $100,000.00 bond. Little stood trial, was found guilty, and convicted of reckless homicide. She was sentenced to 6 months in jail.
Officer Klacza was waked at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home located at 4727 West 103rd Street, Oak Lawn, Illinois. His funeral mass was held at St. Daniel the Prophet Church located at 5300 South Natoma Avenue. He was laid to rest on July 2, 1983 in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, 7201 Archer Avenue, Justice, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 3, Lot 7, Block 117, Section 63.
Patrolman Wayne John Klacza, born April 1, 1951, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 26, 1976. He earned 20 Honorable Mentions and several Complimentary Letters during his career.
Officer Klacza was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police. He was survived by his wife, Barbara Ann (nee Davis), age 31; children: John William, age 7, Mary Ann, age 2 months and Wayne Michael, age 9; parents: John and Sophia (nee Paradowski) and siblings: Kenneth and Jerome.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #E715106 Vice Case Report and E834087 Traffic Crash Report.
In late 1983, Officer Klacza’s star was retired by Superintendent Fred Rice, Jr. and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at
Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer Klacza’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.