William R. King  | Star #417

Death Classification: Line of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 8 years, 8 months, 25 days

Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 3, 3rd Precinct - Cottage Grove

District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth

Location of Occurrence: Southeast corner of 37th Street and State Street

Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy

Age at Time of Death: 41


Date of Birth: 11 Jul 1878

Date of Appointment: 1911

Date of Incident: 25 May 1920

End of Watch: 25 May 1920

Date of Interment: 11 May 1834


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Walnut Ridge Cemetery - Jeffersonville, Indiana
 Grave Location: Unknown
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-6

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 22

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 1

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 41-E: 10

Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed



 Military Service: No Military Record Found


Incident & Biographic Details

Patrolman William R. King, Star #417, aged 41 years, was an 8 year, 8 month, 25 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 3, 3rd Precinct – Cottage Grove.

On May 25, 1920, at 3:37 p.m., Patrolman William R. King responded to a call of a man causing a disturbance on a street car. Upon arriving at the scene, Officer King removed the troublemaker, Freeland Bettis, from the streetcar and placed him under arrest. Officer King then led Bettis to a patrol box located at the Southeast corner of 37th and State Streets. While the officer was placing a call to the station for a patrol wagon he turned his back to Bettis. Bettis took advantage of this and removed a gun from his coat and fired upon Officer King from behind. Bettis then fled the scene making good his escape. Officer King was hit and succumbed to his wounds dying at 4:05 p.m. the same day.

Responding officers were able to track Bettis down to his home located at 3538 South State Street. He was apprehended a short time after the shooting. He claimed he had nothing to do with the shooting and had discarded the murder weapon. However, statements from witnesses left little doubt of his guilt. On May 25, 1920, Bettis was held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner. On March 10, 1921, he was found guilty and sentenced to life in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet by Judge Kersten.

Officer King was laid to rest on May 20, 1920 in Walnut Ridge Cemetery, 2421 Hamburg Pike, Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Patrolman William R. King, born July 11, 1878, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on August 31, 1911.

Officer King was survived by his wife.

Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #4177.