Constable James Quinn Chicago’s Forgotten Hero 1853 1853
A Timeless Truth ► “That's what it is if you are investigating vicious criminals. They don't play by the rules so one of the things they will do is make false allegations against police officers," Cline said. ► --- Phil Cline, Sept. 25, 2003
Constable James Quinn ► This case can be examined in two ways: From a Legal viewpoint: From a Factual standpoint:
Legal Rulings by Police Dept. ► Dec. 12, 1853, the Committee on Police, with power to act, determined, “A member of the Police of the city has been lately killed in the discharge of his duty.” & orders “the Mayor and City Marshal to descend on the Houses of ill-Fame on the Sands to vindicate the honor of the Police.” ► March 6, 1854, the Committee on the Judiciary, with power to act, concurs, “James Quinn was deprived of life in the honest & faithful discharge of his duty as an Officer of the City” and authorizes a $50.00 payment to the widow.
Legal Opinion ► Every attorney who has reviewed this case has reached the following legal conclusion: The decisions of the 1853 Committee on Police and the 1854 Committee on the Judiciary, must stand today as a matter of law absent the presentation of substantial new evidence to justify overturning them. Both bodies found Quinn “was killed while in the discharge of his duty.”
Died a Hero yet never honored ► The Administration of the Police Department TWICE determined Constable Quinn “was killed in the discharge of his duty.” ► His line of duty death was therefore recognized; just never honored. ► As an elected Roman Catholic of foreign birth, Quinn was hated by the Know Nothings. ► It was his ELECTION to public office that made him the enemy to the all Protestant, all native born, Know Nothings, a secret society who held the political power in Chicago in 1854.
FACTS ► 1851 Ordinance establishes Police Department. ► The Sands described. ► Quinn elected to the Office of Constable. ► Police Rules of 1853 issued. ► Quinn is killed in discharge of his duty. ► Rees arrested, indicted, tried, convicted, sentenced, incarcerated. ► City compensates widow with public funds. ► Historical corroboration of Quinn’s line of duty death.
1851 Ordinance to Regulate the Police ► Established the Mayor, Alderman, Police Justices, Constables & Watchmen to constitute the Police of the City of Chicago. ► Mission of Department was to enforce all City Ordinances relative to preserving the peace and good order. ► “Constables shall report for duty as Policemen at such time as the Marshal demands.”
The Sands ► Located on the shores of Lake Michigan just north of the Chicago river. ► Home of crooked gamblers, thieves, pimps & the most degraded prostitutes. ► Notorious hideout & hangout for criminals that housed a beehive of brothels. ► “Police dared not venture into this criminal stronghold.”
1853 Charter Election ► 160 Irish Americans voted as a block electing James Quinn, a Roman Catholic, of foreign birth, to the Office of Constable in the Ninth Ward. This infuriated the “Know Nothings” whose platform called for keeping Catholics & the foreign born, from elected office. ► Quinn defeated Horatio N. Pease, the Know Nothing candidate, by 22 votes. ► Chicago Police Captain Luther Nichols, Quinn’s direct supervisor, was a strident member of the Know Nothings.
Constable Quinn killed in the Discharge of his Duty ► Friday Dec. 2 nd after having arrested a thief on a warrant, Quinn is assaulted and seriously injured by Rees. During the attack the prisoner escaped. ► Saturday Dec. 3 rd, while searching for the same thief who escaped him the night before, Quinn is again assaulted by Rees and is further injured.
Constable Quinn killed in the Discharge of his Duty ► Saturday Dec. 3 rd Quinn, just after the second attack and in accordance with Section 1 of the Police Rules of 1853 requiring him to be “prepared to act on a moment’s notice.” removed himself from scene telling Rees, “I’ll see you another day” ► Sunday Dec. 4 th Quinn reports for duty, returns to the Sands, and causes Rees and the thief who had escaped him to both be arrested. ► Monday Dec. 5 th, Quinn died of injuries.
The Aftermath ► Dec. 5 th Autopsy determines Quinn died from the “kicks & sundry blows” delivered by REES on both Friday & Saturday nights. ► Dec. 8 th REES charged in a ONE Count Indictment of voluntary manslaughter stemming from the Friday night Dec. 2 nd attack ONLY. ► Dec. 12 th Committee on Police finds Quinn “killed in the discharge of his duty” and Orders the Mayor & City Marshal to descend on the Sand to “rout out the houses of ill fame & to vindicate the honor of the Police.”
The Trial ► Quinn’s Captain, Luther Nichols, a defense witness at trial, never accused Quinn of any wrongdoing of any kind. ► Per Rules 19 & 38, Nichols was required to report all allegations of wrongdoing by his subordinates ► Not only was the Captain duty bound to report, but as a Know Nothing, he would have cherished the opportunity to report Quinn for misconduct IF he could have done so.
Captain Luther Nichols ► Captain Nichols, Quinn’s boss, was a strident member of the Know Nothings… a political party comprised of Native born Americans Protestants ► Know Nothings were sworn to keep Roman Catholics and the foreign born from being elected to Public Office. ► Quinn, a Roman Catholic and Irishman was elected to office.
The Conviction ► Feb 3, 1854, REES was convicted of Voluntary Manslaughter by a trial jury; sentenced to five years in prison. ► Feb. 14 th REES delivered to penitentiary in Alton, Illinois. ► Oct. 1855 false rumors circulate that Know Nothing party obtained a Pardon for REES.
Widow Quinn is Compensated ► Feb 27, 1854, widow Margaret Quinn files petition with Mayor & Aldermen in Common Council. ► States her husband, “under no ordinary circumstances died in the honest and faithful discharge of his duty as an officer of this city” ► Seeks compensation “to relieve the destitution which has fallen on her family in consequence of his death.” ► March 6, 1854, Committee on Judiciary concurs with Petition & recommends the payment of $50.00. ► Note: The $50.00 paid to the widow came from city funds; not private donations. The police benevolent mutual aid fund wasn’t founded until 1868.
Petitions to Pardon REES ► By 12/1856, A substantial number of Know Nothings & saloon owners filed a petition seeking Executive Clemency for REES. ► The judge, prosecutor & six jurors also filed petitions seeking a Pardon for REES. ► NONE of the petitions say anything derogatory about Quinn’s actions. ► NONE claim he was drinking or involved in a “personal matter” or “off duty” when killed.
Petitions in support of Pardon ► Common sense tells us that petitioners would include all mitigating circumstances & advance their strongest arguments in the affidavits seeking Executive Clemency for Rees. ► The fact that NOT one petitioner claimed Quinn was drinking or involved in anything other than official duties, speaks volumes as to the veracity of allegations made at trial. ► Had there been any truth to any allegation that Quinn was “somewhat intoxicated,” it surely would have been included in the Pardon petitions.
Historical Corroboration ► In 1868, fifteen years after he killed Constable Quinn, Rees was shot to death. ► Chicago Police in 1868 were “exuberant” and “gratified” that Rees was killed. ► 1868 articles document Quinn, armed with an arrest warrant, was searching for a “thief” when assaulted by Rees.
Chicago Tribune ► Nov. 26, 1868 byline was “RETRIBUTION” ► “Killing of Bill Reese the Notorious Murderer!” ► “Chicago has perhaps never been cursed by a more thorough villain of the rough caste, or a more incorrigible bruiser than Bill Reese. His character has always been the worst imaginable. Known among his class as a murderer and as a desperate rowdy always ready for a fight and never vanquished until killed, he stood as a “frowning bull among the lesser cattle of the pen.” He established a house of prostitution on the Sands in the vicinity of the North Pier. His den soon became the rendezvous for the hardest characters which the city afforded. There he murdered Constable Quinn, by kicking him in the abdomen, for which crime he was sentenced to a term in the state penitentiary.”
Chicago Republican ► Nov. 26, 1868 byline: “The End of a Rascal” ► “Police and many of the citizens of Chicago were much gratified”…at the death of Rees. ► Rees was sent to the penitentiary, in Alton, for having killed Constable Quinn. That officer, it will be remembered by many, went to search for a thief who he believed was harbored in one of the numerous sinks of vice. Reese resisted him and in a struggle which ensued, kicked the Constable so severely as to cause that official’s death.”
Chicago Evening Journal ► Nov. 25, 1868 byline: “Another Landshark Gone” ► “The police are exuberant over the cause of their fellow mortal’s despondency, and hint that the occurrence falling so close to Thanksgiving Day is a remarkable coincidence, and should be taken advantage of by all law-loving citizens.”
Recently Discovered Facts Recently Discovered Facts ► The CPD Awards Committee that rejected a request to honor Quinn did not have the following: The Police Rules of 1853. Knowledge of what had occurred on Friday night Dec. 2, 1853 AND that REES was only Indicted on the Friday night assault, making all of the unsubstantiated drama associated with Saturday night IRRELEVANT to the case in Chief! Knowledge of the content of the Petitions filed in support of Pardon request.
Basis for Appeal ► Relevant Historical information putting this case into the context of the times. ► Other anecdotal information having relevance to the case, i.e., the 1989 Katherine O’Meara revelation. ► Knowledge of the “Historical Corroborative Evidence” of 1868…fifteen years after Quinn died.
Recommendation ► Review the newly discovered facts which were not known when the earlier decision was made. ► Uphold the 1853 & 1854 Rulings of the CPD Administration finding Quinn was “killed in the discharge of his duty.” ► Honor Constable Quinn in a manner consistent with other CPD heroes.