Patrolmen Richard James O’Brien and William Fahey were gunned down during a traffic stop.
Hours after attending the funeral of fellow officer James Doyle, Officers O’Brien and Fahey made a traffic stop. At 2:00 p.m., O’Brien and Fahey observed a late model Chevrolet go through a red light at 81st and Morgan Streets.
Patrolman Richard O’Brien, who was driving the squad car, approached the driver’s side of the car while Officer William Fahey approached the passenger side. Officer Fahey ordered the passenger out and patted him down for a weapon. As he was attempting to handcuff the passenger, the suspect gained control of Fahey’s .357 Magnum revolver, whirled around and fired one at close range. The bullet struck William Fahey behind the left ear.
The assailant swung and fired a shot across the trunk of the car, firing two shots point-blank at Patrolman O’Brien, striking him in the left arm and left hip. One of the men in the vehicle then disarmed O’Brien and the duo fled the scene
Help was first summoned to the scene when a voice was heard over the police radio system: “Emergency! Emergency! Two policemen have been shot at 81st and Morgan”. It was later learned to be the voice of a witness to the shooting who ran to the squad car and grabbed the microphone when he saw the officers fall.
Patrolman O’Brien died a short time after the shooting at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park. Patrolman William Fahey died the following morning at 11:14 a.m. without regaining consciousness.
Both officers were assigned to the Gang Crimes South Unit however, they were not regular partners. O’Brien’s regular partner was off sick, and Fahey’s was filling in on a desk job for a furloughed policeman.
Patrolman Richard J. O’Brien was a 9-year veteran of the department. During his tenure, he received 6 honorable mentions and numerous letters of appreciation. He is the son of a former Chicago Police Sergeant and is survived by his mother.
The funeral mass for Patrolman O’Brien was held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 12th in St. Denis Catholic Church, 8301 S. St. Louis Avenue, the same church where services were held on the day of the shooting for Officer James E. Doyle.
The killers were apprehended, convicted and sentenced to death. On January 10, 2003, the governor at the time, George Ryan commuted their sentences, along with those of all 164 other inmates on death row, to life in prison.