Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 12 years, 6 months, 21 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Bureau of Field Services - Detective Division: Sex Bureau
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Crash - Automobile
Age at Time of Death: 37
Date of Birth: 25 May 1923
Date of Appointment: 27 Apr 1948
Date of Incident: 18 Nov 1960
End of Watch: 18 Nov 1960
Date of Interment:
Cemetery: Lincoln Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 4
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 8
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 19-E: 14
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective William Ralph Johnson, Jr., Star #6996, aged 37 years, was a 12 year, 6 month, 21 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Bureau of Field Services – Detective Division: Sex Bureau.
On November 18, 1960, at 9:30 a.m., Detective Johnson and his partner, Detective Jerry Howard, age 28, were working the second watch in squad car #516. The detectives were responding to a call regarding a rape suspect with lights and siren. While en route the officers were driving northbound on Cottage Grove Avenue when their vehicle was broadsided by another vehicle at the intersection of 59th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. The car that struck them was driven by Robert Sheppard, of 1247 North Bell Avenue, who was driving Westbound on 59th Street. Sheppard was an unlicensed driver and a deaf mute. Following the crash, the squad car spun around and struck two more vehicles before coming to rest. Detective Johnson, sitting in the passenger seat, was ejected from the car and sustained multiple injuries that would prove to be fatal. Detective Howard and four civilians were also injured, but survived the crash.
Robert Sheppard was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
Detective Johnson’s funeral mass was held at Metropolitan Community Church located at 4610 South Prairie Avenue. He was laid to rest in Lincoln Cemetery, 12300 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Detective William Ralph Johnson, Jr., born May 25, 1923, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 27, 1948. He earned 2 Credible Mentions during his career.
Detective Johnson was survived by his wife, Vera Ann (nee Ballinger); children: Carol and William Ralph, III and sister, Deborah. He was preceded in death by his parents: Arnetta (nee Chiles) and William Ralph, Sr.
In January, 1961, Officer Johnson’s star was retired by Superintendent Orlando W. Wilson and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the 4th floor Office of the Superintendent at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. The Honored Star Case was later relocated to the lobby of Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer Johnson’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.