Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 3 years, 10 months, 28 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 10th District - Marquette
District of Incident (Present Day): 010 - Ogden
Cause of Death: Struck - By Train
Age at Time of Death: 32
Date of Birth: 30 Mar 1970
Date of Appointment: 26 Oct 1998
Date of Incident: 18 Sep 2002
End of Watch: 18 Sep 2002
Date of Interment: 23 Sep 2002
Cemetery: Resurrection Catholic Cemetery - Justice, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-9
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 16
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 4, Line 35
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 32-W: 23
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: Unknown
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Benjamin Perez, Star #12225, aged 32 years, was a 5 year, 10 month, 28 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 10th District – Marquette.
On September 18, 2002, at 6:31 p.m., Officer Benjamin Perez, and his partner, Police Officer Ron Zuniga, received information about a narcotics transaction occurring near the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe railroad tracks, located on the 2100 block of South Spaulding Avenue. The officers climbed over a train embankment and were conducting surveillance from a railroad trestle. As they watched for illegal activity, a Metra commuter train traveling at a high rate of speed was headed in their direction. Officer Perez and his partner cleared the train tracks before the train passed, but the engine of the train created a vacuum and sucked Officer Perez under the train. Officer Perez’s partner was able to jump to safety. In a twisted fate of coincidence, Officer Perez’s sister, Hermelinda Alvarez, was aboard the train and heard the conductor announce there was an accident and that someone was hit. She couldn’t have known it was her brother, but he came to her mind. In a news article she related, “I heard it was a police officer. Instantly I thought of my brother. But why in the world would it be him?“ She left the scene and went to her Berwyn, Illinois home later that night and learned of the news.
Officer Perez 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 5330 South Nashville Avenue. He was laid to rest on September 23, 2002 in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, 7201 Archer Avenue, Justice, Illinois.
Patrolman Benjamin Perez, born March 30, 1970, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 26, 1998. He earned 16 Honorable Mentions and 2 Physical Fitness Awards during his career.
Officer Perez was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police. He was survived by his wife, Michele Erica (nee Vinyard), age 28; children: Benjamin Nicolas age 21 months, Katarina, age 9 and Rebecca Elisa, age 5 months; parents: Angel and Catalina and siblings: Andrea (Misael) Villegas, Elena, Guillermina Villegas, Hermelinda (Jesus) Alvarez and Jose.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #HH656849.
On May 24, 2005, Officer Perez’s star was retired by Superintendent Philip J. Cline and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.
On September 20, 2011, the 5300 block of South Nashville Avenue was dedicated as “Honorary Officer Benjamin Perez Way.“ One brown honorary street sign was erected. The sign was located on the Southeast corner of 53rd Street and Nashville Avenue in the heart of the Garfield Ridge community on the block where Officer Perez lived.