Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 4 years, 9 months, 5 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 11 - Englewood
District of Incident (Present Day): 004 - South Chicago
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 31
Date of Birth: 31 Dec 1895
Date of Appointment: 07 Jun 1922
Date of Incident: 12 Mar 1927
End of Watch: 12 Mar 1927
Date of Interment:
Cemetery: Mount Hope Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-10
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 1
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 19
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 42-E: 16
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: YES, Branch Unknown
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Leonard A. Grant, Sr., Star #3751, aged 31 years, was a 4 year, 9 month, 5 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 11 – Englewood, detailed to Detective Division – Ford Squad 7-B.
On March 12, 1927, at 3:43 a.m., Officer Grant was on patrol with his partner, Patrolman William A. Frost. They attempted to arrest three men, Gregario Rizzo, Bernardo Roa and Robert Torrez, on the 9800 block of South Ewing Avenue.
The three convicts forced a cab driver to drive them to Chicago after they had escaped from the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet. Officers Grant and Frost intercepted the cab and attempted to pull the cab over by forcing it to the curb. A gunfight ensued in which Officer Grant was killed and Officer Frost and the cab driver was seriously wounded. Robert Torrez and Gregario Rizzo were also wounded in the gunfight and arrested on scene. Bernardo Roa, Officer Grant’s murderer fled the scene and made good his escape. Officer Grant was taken to South Chicago Hospital where he died a short time later.
Detectives quickly learned through their investigation the backgrounds on the offenders and their multiple prison break attempts. On May 5th, 1926, Rizzo, Roa and Torrez along with four other inmates, Charlie Duschowski, James Price, Charles Shader and Walter Stalesky, attempted to escape from Joliet Penitentiary. Rizzo, Roa and Torrez were apprehended before they could get away. During that escape, one of the escaping inmates stabbed and killed Deputy Warden Peter Klein after he tried to impede their flight. Rizzo, Roa and Torrez were then returned to face execution for the murder of Chicago Elevated Lines Ticket Agent Charles H. Johnson, age 60, on November 3, 1923, their original murder sentence. The men, however, were not done attempting to escape. They made their attempt again and were able to make it out with outside and inside help. Friends and relatives of the three men smuggled in saw blades with their care packages, and by March 1927, Rizzo and Roa were hard at work sawing through their cell bars while Torrez covered them by singing La Paloma for days on end. They also paid Jail Guard Edward F. Gibbons and an ex-colleague $1,500.00 to aid them in their escape. It was after this escape attempt that they had their encounter with Officer Grant. After Jail Guard Gibbon’s part in the escape was learned, a warrant was sworn out for his arrest by Will County Sheriff Albert Markgraf. The State’s Attorney also ordered the arrest of any person who had recently visited the inmates at the prison.
Edward Gibbons was arrested when he reported for duty early the next morning after the warrant was issued. Robert Torrez and Gregario Rizzo were later turned over to the Will County Sheriff to be returned to prison. On June 13, 1927, Charlie Duschowski, Gregario Rizzo, Charles Shader and Walter Stalesky attempted a third escape from Joliet Penitentiary. During the escape, they Took Sheriff Alfred E. Markgraf hostage, and attempted to drive out of the jail yard. Rizzo was shot dead in the resulting fusillade, but somehow Charles Shader managed to make good his escape in the mayhem as his compatriots were being re-arrested. On July 15th, 1927, Charlie Duschowski, Gregario Rizzo, Walter Stalesky and Roberto Torrez were executed by hanging at the Will County Jail. It was the last public execution in Illinois.
Charles Shader was eventually recaptured and hanged on October 10, 1928. It was the last hanging in the state’s history. James Price made it to New York, where he eventually wound up in prison for robbery. In 1937, he was extradited back to Illinois, given a long prison term, and was eventually paroled in the 1960’s. Bernardo Roa fled to Mexico and was arrested in 1948 where he had a failed extradition attempt and was never returned to Illinois to face his sentence.
Officer Grant was waked at a chapel located at 1648 West 63rd Street. His funeral mass was held at Drexel Park Presbyterian Church located at 6359 South Marshfield Avenue. He was laid to rest on March 15, 1927 in Mount Hope Cemetery, 11500 South Fairfield Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman Leonard A. Grant, Sr., born December 31, 1895, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 7, 1922.
Officer Grant served in the Armed Forces, was a veteran of World War I and was Honorably Discharged. He was also a Master Mason and a member of Boulevard Lodge No. 882 AF&AM. Officer Grant was survived by his wife, Helen; son, Leo A., Jr., age 3; father, Alexander H. and siblings: Joseph and the late Francis.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department homicide file, Case #8124 and related Homicide File No. 786.